“A Deserving Porcupine.”


Yesterday I reread Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon.

It was published 60 years ago, btw, in two-color.

Weird format, too.

And, of course, it’s perfect.

But what I keep thinking about these past 24 hours is that throwaway phrase, “a deserving porcupine.”

Do you recall it? Possibly not.

Harold thinks about a picnic, and pies, and being Harold, he goes a little overboard.

He hated to see so much delicious pie go to waste.”

Here’s what kills me:

So Harold left a very hungry moose and a deserving porcupine to finish it up.”



That phrase: a deserving porcupine.

How did Crockett Johnson even think of that? Out of all the available adjectives for a porcupine, he deemed this particular one “deserving.”

What did it do to deserve such treatment? I guess we’ll never know, but it feels to me like there’s a story there, somewhere off the page. The deserving porcupine appears on only one page of the book, then off Harold goes, in search of a hill to climb . . .

I should add this postscript:

TheFallIt’s pub day for my new book, The Fall

I really think everybody should buy it. That would be awesome. Thanks!


  1. chris sheban says:

    Congratulations, James!

  2. zvon says:

    Wow. I had a Harold book when I was extremely young. It’s the 1st book I can recall. Was there a series of books or just this one? I forgot all about Harold and he was a big influence for me as far as drawing goes. Thanks for this post. It has brought back long forgotten memories.

  3. Gerard says:

    I just searched Google specifically for this sentence in the book! I thought I was the only one who noticed how peculiar it was. I couldn’t have been more than 4 years old and I was probably reading it out loud to my father. Both my parents encouraged me to read at a very young age. I remember specifically asking my father what a deserving porcupine meant. Nostalgia at its best!

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