02 June 2009


Sterling, the book-publishing wing of Barnes & Noble, has republished eight of Richard Scarry's books. These aren't his best known titles, which are still under contract with Golden. But they all fit into his trademark "Busytown" mode of anthropomorphic animals and crowded pages.

My favorite among them is Richard Scarry's Find Your ABCs--one of the best alphabet books out there, with an ingenious use of colored type. That stars of that book are the inept detectives Sam Cat and Dudley Pig, and Richard Scarry's The Great Pie Robbery and Other Mysteries collects three more stories about the pair.

Sterling's website offers a long account of the man's life, from Boston to Gstaad. An even longer, less reverent, and yet apparently accurate bio appears at rotten.com.

Alan Taylor used Flickr to document how Scarry updated his Best Word Book Ever to keep up with social mores after a quarter-century had passed. I understand some stories that played on ethnic stereotypes have dropped from Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy World, one of my childhood favorites, for the same reason. But cost-cutting might also have factored into that change.

Scarry would be ninety years old this year, so Sterling is promoting their eight titles with giveaways. The first stages are open only to people "employed by a school, academic or professional library, or retail store." But Publishers Weekly also said:

The second giveaway, 90 Books for 90 Birthdays, will be a one-day sweepstakes held on Friday, June 5 (starting at 12 a.m. EDT and ending at 11:59 p.m. EDT), and is open to any Scarry fans. Those who wish to enter can submit their names and addresses to sterlingkids@sterlingpublishing.com.
But darned if I can find anything about that on Sterling's website today.

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