By Beth Clark • June 04, 2018
Born in Boston, Massachusetts on June 5, 1919, Richard Scarry didn't originally set out to become a renowned bestselling children’s author…he went to business school! Luckily for kids (and grownups) all over the world, he decided that wasn't his thing and went to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts instead, which is what eventually led him to the career he's known and loved for. "Eventually" because before going to work as a commercial artist, Scarry was drafted into the US Army. He served for the duration of World War II, honing his artistic skills by drawing maps, creating promotional signs, and illustrating propaganda.
Apparently, he wasn't quite cut out for the fashion world, but Little Golden Books was a different story (pun intended). The first book he illustrated there was The Animals' Merry Christmas by Kathryn Jackson in 1950. #FunFact: It was Scarry who turned Smokey the Bear into an icon with his illustration of the famous cub for Jane Werner Watson's book. He also published a few titles with his wife, a fellow children's author (they met at Little Golden Books) named Patricia Scarry, including the classic Richard Scarry's Just for Fun.
In 1989, 8 (!) of the 50 top-selling hardcover books of all time were Scarry's. Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever, which was published in 1963, contains a whopping 1400+ number of objects. It really did sell 3,798,953 copies as of 1996! Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever wasn't far behind.
Lowly Worm was originally intended to be a side character, but as invertebrates too, he was lovable enough to get his own fan mail, so there it was. Although Richard Scarry passed away on April 30, 1994, in Switzerland, his son Huck (Richard Scarry, Jr.) continued the Busy World series, and as of 2014, Lowly even has his own book. Naturally, it's titled Richard Scarry's Best Lowly Worm Book Ever. His granddaughter Olympia is also an artist, so both Scarry's talent and books live on.
ThriftBooks currently has 406 active listings for Scarry's books, so if there's one you're missing, or you haven't read Lowly's book yet, definitely browse when you have a minute!