Kid’s Corner: Richard Scarry and Busytown

From the moment he awakens in the morning, Raisin’s best friends are by his side.

They live in Busytown, which is sometimes directly above our house and other times underground, where it snows in April. Goldbug is his best friend (sometimes he is Raisin’s brother), with Huckle, Sally, and Hilda Hippo frequently joining the two of them for birthday parties, and games of “Go Fish.”

I remember loving Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things that Go as a child, and Raisin takes after me. Ever since I got the book for him for his second birthday, Raisin’s enjoyed looking for little Goldbug on every page.  The story is a long one, so we don’t always read every page. Because each page is independent of the page before it, it’s easy to skip pages without a discerning toddler or preschooler getting upset. We both love finding the silly things, like the pencil car and a ketchup truck .  We tut-tut Dingo Dog’s crazy driving, and wonder will Officer Flossy will ever catch up to him?

The Richard Scarry franchise never really went away. The Best Word Book Ever was first published in 1963, Busy Busy World (later, Busy, Busy Town) in 1965, and Cars and Trucks in 1974.  Word Book captures hundreds of words – some essential and some silly. Busy Town follows the different jobs people do in a busy town. Those three are our favorites, but Richard Scarry has dozens of other Busytown books, from A Day in the Life of … books to A Trip to the ….. books to early readers like Watch Your Step, Mr. Rabbit and The Best Mistake Ever (many of these books starring Huckle Cat and his friends).

We also have Richard Scarry’s Best Story Book Ever, which includes stories and illustrations from Busytown, as well as those from various other favorite Richard Scarry books that do not feature the Busytown characters, such as I Am a Bunny and Good Night, Little Bear. Raisin is excited when he sees any of these favorite stories as a stand-alone book at the library, and though we have it at home in the Story Book, we always much still check it out. Richard Scarry’s illustrations tie the Story Book together, and it’s a fun book for us to read bits of at bedtime. Raisin also enjoys browsing through it at his leisure.

I should also note that Raisin has watched and enjoyed both the The Busy World of Busytown and Busytown Mysteries, television series created in the 1990s and more recently based on Richard Scarry’s characters.

He also loves playing the Eye Found It! Busytown Mysteries board game. If anyone is looking for a perfect team game for preschoolers, this is it. Each child spins to move their own game piece, but then when someone spins a “mystery” card, everyone works together to find the hidden items on the board, from banana peels to balloons. I even like playing it.

Given that Raisin has adopted these characters as his best friends, it’s obvious that children are delighted by the anthropomorphic friends in the crazy world of Busytown.  Richard Scarry’s creations are here to stay for future generations.

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About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. My daughters loved Busytown too. We had a few books, and a computer game aimed at approx. 4-6 year olds that was really popular at our house. My girls are now in high school but some Busytown characters and phrases are still in our family lexicon!

  2. I have the Dutch version of that book and I remember loving it as well. Funny, I never knew it was a well-known book.

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