Books That Channel the Spirit of Richard Scarry

Posted by Sara Grochowski

Richard Scarry is a best-loved children’s author. He illustrated over 150 books, many of which have never been out of print, and created memorable characters like Lowly Worm and Huckle Cat. For generations, Scarry has been teaching children about community helpers, concepts, and more, always encouraging imagination, learning, and exploration. If you loved Richard Scarry as a kid, we have four books for adult readers that revisit the themes and subjects of Scarry’s beloved books.


Pantone: The Twentieth Century in Color by Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker

In Richard Scarry’s Colors, bunnies mix and use paint to teach about color. The 1959 reissue even included a moveable color wheel inside the front cover. Longtime Pantone collaborators and color gurus Eiseman and Recker’s channel the wonder of color, identifying more than 200 touchstone works of art, products, décor, and fashion, matching them with official PANTONE color palettes to reveal trends, radical shifts, and resurgences of various hues.


Fifty Cars That Changed the World by Andrew Nahum

Richard Scarry’s Cars introduced young readers to vehicles, some fantastical, including banana mobiles, pickle cars, police cars, cheese cars, and more. In Fifty Cars That Changed the World, which is part of the Design Museum Fifty series, Nahum takes a deep dive into the modern era’s most important mode of transportation: the automobile. From the 1908 Ford Model T through the 1957 Lotus Elite and 1998 Smart Car, each entry explores the individual car’s iconic status in design history.


What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

Richard Scarry has encouraged countless children to explore, question, and learn, a pursuit Randall Munroe encourages for adults in his webcomic turned book What If? Filled with hilarious and informative questions (you never thought to ask), Munroe runs computer simulations, searches stacks of declassified military research memos, solves complicated math equations, and consults with experts to determine the answers to fascinating questions.


Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Zach Weinersmith and Kelly Weinersmith

In What Do People Do All Day, Richard Scarry gives kids an overview of the many different community roles and their daily responsibilities. The Wienersteins new book, which releases soonish (in September 2017), gives adult readers a look at ten emerging technologies that have the power to change our everyday lives in significant ways. While Scarry offers a broad look at daily life, Soonish looks into the future to programmable matter, augmented reality, space elevators, and robotic construction. Just imagine a version of What People Do All Day with those technological advancements! Lowly Worm would be amazed.

Sara Grochowski

Sara Grochowski is an unapologetic book pusher, whether she’s in the library stacks or bookstore. She also writes for Publisher’s Weekly and speaks at conferences about great books and best practices for booksellers and librarians. You can find her on Twitter @thehidingspot and her blog, The Hiding Spot.