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:
It’s pub day for my new book, The Fall.
I really think everybody should buy it. That would be awesome. Thanks!
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.
Warren, there were several Harold books, but as far as I’m concerned, only one Big Idea — and it was perfect.
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!
I love this, Gerard. I’m so glad you found it.