“The sandy beach reminded Harold of picnics": Rare First Edition of Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon

  • Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Item Number: 39014

New York: Harper & Brothers, 1955.

First edition of the first book in Crockett Johnson’s Harold series. 12 mo, original half cloth. Fine in a near fine dust jacket with a touch of rubbing. An exceptional example, rare and desirable in this condition.

Crockett Johnson—a pen name for David Johnson Liesk—was “a cartoonist whose simplest, sparest and boldest outlines produced unforgettable, gently humorous and always endearing caricatures… His natural gift for drawing and writing from a young child’s viewpoint enabled him to craft more than 20 juvenile books,” including this, his most popular one. “With the fewest of lines, Johnson depicts Harold as a toddler clad in sleepers, his chubby hand gripping a fat plum-colored crayon. From page to page, the thick, firm, purple mark delineates Harold’s actions against the stark white background so effectively and ingeniously that the crayon is as much a character as Harold. The same economy that informs Johnson’s art permeates his text; he writes so concisely of Harold’s moonlight stroll that his style perfectly echoes the clarity of his boldly outlined cartoon illustrations” (Silvey, 355).