Some of my happiest memories of fatherhood include introducing my kids to the Richard Scarry books.
Featuring a huge anthropomorphised cast, with recurring characters such as Sergeant Murphy, traffic hound and pursuer of miscreants, and solid, cheerful, lederhosen-wearing Huckle Cat, Scarry’s tales of mishap, derring-do, industry and shopping always feel deeply, richly safe. Some aspects of Busytown and its environs are slightly perturbing – a lot of traffic accidents happen, despite Sergeant Murphy’s best efforts, and the bacon-proffering butchers inevitably seem to be rosy, possibly cannibal, pigs. But looking back at Scarry’s most popular title, The Best Word Book Ever, which I had as a child, and revisiting the young bear’s enormous breakfast – waffle, eggs, cold fruit juice, milk, hot cocoa, muffins and toast, although “He doesn’t eat the toaster” – still makes me smile. To the small but dogged reader, Scarry’s compendiums suggest that all knowledge is explicable and easily mastered, from the function of ailerons to the etiquette of a party. With a palette of vivid colours – saturated reds, suffused pinks and deep, gingery browns – he strikes an enticing balance between education and pure enjoyment. –Guardian.