Monday, March 18, 2013

Politically Incorrect Richard Scarry

If you look at your copy of Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever, you'll probably find a note on the cover in tiny print that says "Abridged Edition." Originally published back in the 1960s, the current edition is somewhat different than the contemporary edition. The blog has covered some of the alterations--I is now just for Ice Cream (instead of an Indian eating Ice Cream), Hannukah was added as a notable holiday, etc.--but when I was paging through my husband's childhood edition, I found some spreads I didn't even know existed. One of them, "Out West," is no longer politically correct, and I think the other two were either deemed boring or  too culturally incorrect to warrant saving. I believe there are a handful of other pages excised from the current edition that used to be included, by my husband's old copy is so savaged from years of reading love that it'shard to be sure what's what. (Lots of pages are missing, some are taped together even if they don't match, etc.) Anyway, for your viewing pleasure, here's some old-school Richard Scarry for ya:

If you're a nerd like me, you could cross-reference this original TOC with the pages in your edition and see which are missing and which have been rearranged. For example, I'm pretty sure that "Last Words of the Day" isn't in our new edition. The original edition also has different endpapers, while our new edition uses the letters and numbers pages for endpaper material.

"Out West" was a revelation to me. This would have been ultrapopular with the kiddos back in the 1960s (and before that, during the height of the Western craze in the 1950s), but the Native American depictions just don't play anymore.

Richard Scarry was underrated as an architectural illustrator. This "Buildings" spread gives you an idea of what he could do, and he takes it up a notch in the book Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy World, which is full of gorgeous full-color spreads of buildings like St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

"Houses" is another page that I don't think appears in modern editions. Are some of these buildings culturally insensitive and out-of-date, or was this spread just cut to save space? Discuss in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. I have noticed that SO many of the vintage books I collect have depictions of kids playing cowboys and Indians - it makes it seem like that was the favourite thing for kids to do back then! I wonder when this started to fade out - I was born in 1975 and I know WE definitely never played this!