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83

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Harold and the Purple Crayon shows that life is about taking control of one's environment.

Harold's world is a blank slate through which he learns to draw his own experiences, with a purple crayon.

Full Review

Is Harold’s crayon creating his reality, or showing how he would enjoy it?

Harold’s adventure begins in the evening, after a time of squiggling his purple crayon on a wall. He, decides to go for a walk in the moonlight but, to do so, he needs somewhere to walk. Land appears when he draws an horizon. For a moonlight walk he must have a moon, so he draws one. Then he draws a path to walk on but, soon bored, he strikes off across a field, while ensuring his horizon is ever-present.

For interest, Harold draws an apple tree and places a scary dragon under it. In the mild confusion between creating one’s world and using one’s imagination, the dragon is an unexpectedly real fright (be careful what you wish for?) that makes his crayon hand shake. The result is waves, and he falls in! Thinking fast, he draws a boat and climbs aboard. He subsequently draws a mast and sail, then a shoreline on which to disembark in pursuit of more terrestrial adventures.

How will he find his way home from this world? What tie to his bedroom will end his adventurous dream? (Parents will enjoy the lovely play on words on the third and second last pages.)

Harold and the Purple Crayon is not just a story of free imagination, as some reviewers have suggested. It’s enduring value lies in Harold’s self sufficiency. He uses his mind –though his knowledge is somewhat beyond his years– to both create and cope with his world. Young readers can see that frights and risks he faces are surmountable because Harold thinks of ways to deal with them. If one is smart with their ‘crayon’, one can explore and return to safety,

The most important element of Harold and the Purple Crayon is not that Harold’s imagination ‘creates’ reality, but that Harold is the happy and secure architect of his own experiences,