Life in Busytown

Richard Scarry

Richard Scarry was born in Boston Massachusetts on June 5, 1919. Scarry is best known for his whimsical characters like Lowly Worm, Huckle Cat, Hilda Hippo, Mr. Frumble, and Mr. Fixit, who all live in the fictional community of Busytown. Scarry was a skilled illustrator and author who had a knack for making his animal characters come to life by giving them human characteristics. His use of anthropomorphism made his characters more endearing to his audience.

When he was a child Scarry’s parents ran a small chain of department stores in Boston. After completing high school, he attended the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts from 1939 to 1942, where he learned how to draw. 

In 1943 Scarry was drafted into the U.S. Army to serve in World War II. Scarry was stationed at the Allied Headquarters in Algiers. He was assigned to a unit that was tasked with bolstering soldiers’ morale and entertaining the troops. He was told to “tell the troops why they are fighting and send them news from home.” To do his job better Scarry requested that a copy of Time Magazine be delivered each week to his office in Algiers. He would read the news and craft a newsletter to the troops that included maps and posters he drew. This was Scarry’s first practice in communicating to people through his drawings.

After the war, Scarry moved to New York to pursue a career as a commercial artist. He was encouraged to try illustrating children’s books and was sent to Western Publishing company which was working on a new line of children’s books called Little Golden Books.

In 1949, Scarry illustrated his first book, “Two Little Miners,” written by Margaret Wise Brown. While living in New York, Scarry met his wife Patricia Murphy, who was a writer. Scarry found his first success in 1963 with the book "Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever." Scarry published more than 250 books that sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.

A animated television show based on the characters from Scarry's books ran from 1994-1998. The show was called the "Busy World of Richard Scarry."

In the early 1980's Scarry's eyesight began to worsen as he suffered from the effects of macular degeneration. On April 4, 1994 Richard Scarry passed away after a heart attack likely caused by complications caused by esophageal cancer.  

Since his passing Scarry's wonderful and imaginative characters have continued to brighten the words of so many inquisitive children. The Alachua County Library District has put together a selection of his works for you to discover and enjoy.

5-Minute Stories

Richard Scarry

This fun-filled collection of stories, each of which can be read aloud in five minutes, is the ticket to Busytown, where kids will meet such friendly characters as Lowly Worm, Huckle Cat, Sergeant Murphy and others.

Richard Scarry's Best Nursery Tales Ever

Richard Scarry

Richard Scarry illustrates a mix of well-known and obscure folk tales, from The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood to The Teeny-Tiny Woman and The Three Wishes. Characters from his Busy World populate these gently told stories, and children will delight in the rich, engaging scenes.

Richard Scarry's Trucks Board Book

Richard Scarry

Animals drive all kinds of trucks, including trucks that lift things, that move things, and that even transport ice cream.

Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day?

Richard Scarry

Shows and tells what busy people do every day to build houses, sail ships, fly planes, keep house, and grow food.

The Busy World of Richard Scarry: Captain Willy and the Pirates

A class lesson comes to life as Huckle and his classmates learn about the olden days of Busy Town when Captain Willy takes on a gang of mouse pirates who steal his lunch.

The Busy World of Richard Scarry: Huckle and Lowly's Greatest Adventures

The three fishermen -- The busiest firefighter ever -- Camping out -- The treasure hunt -- A trip to the moon -- The big story -- Young vikings -- High flyers -- Cat family ski trip -- Lowly breaks a leg -- The plight of Penelope Parakeet -- Lowly joins the circus -- Denys at Camp -- Has anyone seen my book? -- A trip back in time -- Triple A deliveries -- Lost in the swamp -- Mr. Fixit's super submarine -- The best car trip ever -- Message in a bottle.

Richard Scarry's Best Little Word Book Ever!

Richard Scarry

Labeled pictures introduce the members of the Cat family, their good friend Lowly Worm, their house, their food, and their drives downtown, to the airport, and to the harbor.

Busytown Mysteries: You and Me—Solve a Mystery

Busytown is full of curiosities. In these episodes, six unforgettable friends find the answers to a series of mysteries.

Descriptions adapted from the publisher.
By Brad on June 12, 2024