Traditional Thursday: Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy Town

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Traditional Thursday: Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy Town

As a child, one of my favorite authors and illustrators was Richard Scarry. I would spend hours immersing myself in his fictional universe, Busytown, full of familiar faces and colorful places. I read many of his books revolving around the citizens of Busytown, and it was exciting for me to see those characters expand to television in the show The Busy World of Richard Scarry or to interactive electronic storybooks for my LeapPad (remember those?). One of the many Busytown books that in still available in bookstores is Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy Town. This colorful picture book, whose most up-to-date edition was released in 2000, allows readers a glimpse into the daily lives of the residents of Busytown.

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Page depicting various chores around the house

Characters like Lowly Worm and Huckle Cat make appearances in this book that, though lacking a significant plot or conflict, fleshes out an intricate world of anthropomorphic animals that go to work, go to school, do chores, drive cars, and more. Each page has a central theme that is an aspect of life in Busytown, like transportation, housework, or jobs, and Scarry’s colorful illustrations depict residents participating in these everyday events. An added bonus is the vocabulary that Scarry incorporates throughout the book. He makes sure that his readers learn something from their experience by including various words related to the themes and topics. Richard Scarry finds a perfect balance between vocabulary words and narration that keeps young readers’ attention while also teaching them new words and phrases that relate to their own lives.

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What I love most about Richard Scarry’s books are the busy illustrations. He mindfully uses the space of each page; sometimes he sprinkles various pictures around one page, and sometimes he uses a full two pages to draw a full-sized, detailed scene of citizens out and about in Busytown. There is so much going on in each picture that it’s almost like reading a Where’s Waldo? book. Each time you read you will notice something new because there are so many diverse characters and there is no one main protagonist that drives the story. Children can use the pictures alone to create new stories, so this book can never really get old.

Posted by Lexi Anderson

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