THE BUSY DEADLY WORLD OF RICHARD SCARRY
Today is the birthday of the late great Richard Scarry, creator of the beloved Busytown and its various anthropomorphized animal inhabitants. Now, we’d never deny him his rightful place in the pantheon of great creators of children’s literature. But isn’t it time someone updated these characters for a modern audience? Wouldn’t it be great to have an edgier, more challenging rendition of the Busytown denizens, so we could keep enjoying their adventures long after we realize there are no apple-shaped helicopters? Don’t answer, because 1) the question is rhetorical and 2) We already went to the trouble of imagining what a darker, more sinister, Richard Scarrier world might look like. Here you go:
A familiar residents of Busytown, and named after Richard Scarry’s son, Huckle is a friendly young feline whose primary interests seem to be riding his bicycle and learning new words. At least that’s the classic version. But in a primal age, when the savage laws of nature trump politeness and good manners, Huckle’s true instincts take over.
HUCKLE SABERTOOTH CAT
In Busytown as we know it, Sergeant Murphy combines the best qualities of dogs and policemen: He’s honest, loyal, brave, and never ever takes off his helmet. But imagine an apocalyptic future in which only the strong survive, and violence is the order of the day. One man…er…dog cuts a swath through the burned-out wasteland and leaves and adorable trail of blood in his wake.
See him enter the Busydome for bloody combat! Two [men/dogs/cats/goats/baboons/pigs/octopuses/other animal types or combination] enter, one [see previous bracketed list] leaves!
Poor Mr. Frumble, always losing his hat, stuck driving a pickle car that depreciated faster than a PT Cruiser. Isn’t it likely that he longs for a new life…a different identity…a chance to be somebody else?
How far would you go to become someone else? And would a pickle car get you there?
Did you ever notice that there don’t seem to be any churches or houses of worship in Busytown? Every major religious denomination on earth has clearly stated that animals are not allowed. And there’s Farmer Alfalfa, a goat-headed creature who always seems ready to make a deal…
Perhaps the most popular Busytown resident of all, Lowly is someone we call all identify with: humble, spineless, cursed to wear a single shoe even though there’s no point to it. But even a worm can turn, and in some corner of time and space Lowly will have his day.
“WHO’S GETTING BUSY NOW, YOU PATHETIC LITTLE INSECTS?”
RICK CHILLOT is a former baby and current writer and editor at Quirk Books. He has contributed to magazines such as Psychology Today, Parenting, Mental Floss, and Prevention. In his twenty-plus years in publishing he’s interviewed about a jillion scientists and doctors and therefore had no need to consult any of them for this book.