Harold and the Purple Crayon

Harold and the Purple Crayon is a 1955 children's book by Crockett Johnson. This is Johnson's most popular book. It led to a series of other books, and inspired many adaptations.

Harold and the Purple Crayon
First edition
AuthorCrockett Johnson
CountryUnited States
GenreChildren's novel
PublisherHarper & Brothers
Publication date
[E] 22
LC ClassMLCS 2006/43120 (P)


The protagonist, Harold, is a curious four-year-old[1] boy who, with his purple crayon, has the power to create a world of his own simply by drawing it.

Harold wants to go for a walk in the moonlight, but there is no moon, so he draws one. He has nowhere to walk, so he draws a path. He has many adventures looking for his room, and in the end he draws his own house and bed and goes to sleep.

Book series

  • Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955)
  • Harold's Fairy Tale (1956)
  • Harold's Trip to the Sky (1957)
  • Harold at the North Pole (1958)
  • Harold's Circus (1959)
  • A Picture for Harold's Room (1960)
  • Harold's ABC (1963)


The original story was adapted by Weston Woods Studios and Brandon Films[2] into a seven-minute short film in 1959, directed by David Piel and narrated by Norman Rose.[3][4] In 1971, Gene Deitch directed an animation of A Picture for Harold's Room, and in 1974 an animation of Harold's Fairy Tale. In 1993, these three animations were packaged with a documentary, and sold as the Harold and the Purple Crayon and Other Harold Stories set.

There have also been theater adaptations.[5][6]

In the couch gag for the Simpsons episode "The Bob Next Door", Harold is shown drawing the Simpson family living room during the regular title sequence. Homer also asks Harold to draw him a can of beer after he finishes with the living room.

In 2011, the story was adapted as an interactive book for the iPad by Trilogy Studios.[7]

In 2019 on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Jimmy Kimmel presented a parody, Donald and the Magic Sharpie.

Television series

Harold and the Purple Crayon
Developed byCarin Greenberg Baker
Jeff Kline
Voices ofConnor Matheus
Narrated bySharon Stone
Composer(s)Van Dyke Parks
Kevin Kiner
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes13
Executive producer(s)Jeff Kline
Producer(s)Bob Hathcock
Running time23 minutes
Production company(s)Adelaide Productions
Columbia TriStar Television
DistributorSony Pictures Television
Original networkHBO Family
Original releaseDecember 1, 2001 (2001-12-01) 
March 23, 2002 (2002-03-23)

In 2002, the stories were adapted by Adelaide Productions into a 13-episode television series for HBO narrated by Sharon Stone and featuring Connor Matheus as the voice of Harold. The series won a Daytime Emmy Award for "Main Title Design", and was nominated for an Annie Award and Humanitas Prize.[8][9] There has also been VHS and DVD releases.

This show focuses on Harold using his purple crayon to explore a new world. Each episode has Harold focusing on life lessons throughout his journeys.


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"Harold and the Purple Crayon"Tom ElleryCarin Greenberg BakerDecember 1, 2001 (2001-12-01)
Harold can't sleep, and uses his purple crayon to create a fantastic world.
2"Blame It on the Rain"Tom ElleryEric WeinerJanuary 5, 2002 (2002-01-05)
Harold wants to know where rain comes from.
3"Fly Away Home"Sean SongDon GillesJanuary 12, 2002 (2002-01-12)
Harold learns that no matter how small he is, he can accomplish big things.
4"A Dog's Tale"Andy ThomCarin Greenberg BakerJanuary 19, 2002 (2002-01-19)
Harold's stuffed toy comes to life.
5"One Crayon Band"Sean SongJan StrnadJanuary 26, 2002 (2002-01-26)
Harold learns about music.
6"I Remember Goldie"Tom ElleryCarin Greenberg BakerFebruary 2, 2002 (2002-02-02)
Harold's goldfish dies, so a mermaid helps him understand the meaning of death.
7"Harold's Birthday Gift"Andy ThomMelody FoxFebruary 9, 2002 (2002-02-09)
Harold celebrates his birthday and learns that the true birthday gift is friendship.
8"A Blast from the Past"Tom ElleryDon GillesFebruary 16, 2002 (2002-02-16)
Harold uses his imagination to travel back to prehistoric times.
9"Harold the Artiste"Chuck DrostStu KriegerFebruary 23, 2002 (2002-02-23)
Harold can't draw a perfect circle, so he uses his purple crayon to visit a museum and later learns to appreciate his drawings, no matter the perfection.
10"Harold's Walk on the Wild Side"Tom ElleryDon GillesMarch 2, 2002 (2002-03-02)
Harold imagines what would it be like if he was an animal.
11"Harold in the Dark"Andy ThomStu KriegerMarch 9, 2002 (2002-03-09)
Harold wonders where the moon is gone to.
12"Future Clock"Sean SongThomas HartMarch 16, 2002 (2002-03-16)
Harold wonders what would it be like if he's a grown-up.
13"Cowboy Harold"Chap YaepStu KriegerMarch 23, 2002 (2002-03-23)
Harold refuses to eat squash and imagines if he was a cowboy.


In February 2010, it was reported that Sony Pictures Animation and Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment are developing a CGI-animated film adaptation of Harold and the Purple Crayon. It is being produced by Smith and James Lassiter, and written by Josh Klausner.[10] In December 2016, it had been reported that the film will also be written by Dallas Clayton.[11]


The book inspired programmer Petri Purho to create the computer game Crayon Physics Deluxe,[12] The book potentially inspired the kid's TV show Chalkzone,[13] and has been used frequently in children's and art education lesson plans.[14] Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children".[15] In 2012 it was ranked number 16 among the "Top 100 Picture Books" in a survey published by School Library Journal.[16]

One of the protagonists in Captain Underpants, Harold Hutchins, is named after the protagonist in the book, along with George Beard being named after the protagonist in Curious George.

In Rob Reiner's 1999 romantic comedy The Story of Us, Kate (Michelle Pfeiffer) says that Harold and the Purple Crayon is one of her favorite books and an allegory for her marriage with Ben (Bruce Willis). She later explains that Ben just wouldn't "share the crayon," and that she feels she has been living in his world rather than one she had helped create.

In Episode 3 of the third season of Legion ("Chapter 22"), Gabrielle Haller reads the book to her infant son, David, who will grow up to be the series' central protagonist.


  1. Trilogy Studios (August 8, 2011). "Harold and The Purple Crayon Climbs to #1 in iPad Book App Chart in First Week of Release" (Press release). PR Newswire. Retrieved April 24, 2014. This timeless classic by Crockett Johnson is about the world a curious four-year-old boy creates by simply drawing it with a purple crayon.
  2. Harold and the Purple Crayon (1959) at The Big Cartoon DataBase
  3. "Crockett Johnson Homepage: Film and Video". Ksu.ksu.edu. 2005-08-03. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  4. Harold and the Purple Crayon (1959) on IMDb
  5. "Harold and the Purple Crayon". DC Theatre Scene. 2008-09-24. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  6. Archived February 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. "iTunes Store". itunes.apple.com. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  8. "Sony Pictures | The Best in Movies, TV Shows, Games & Apps". Haroldandthepurplecrayontv.com. Archived from the original on 2008-05-27. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  9. Harold and the Purple Crayon (2002) on IMDb
  10. Rowles, Dustin (February 25, 2010). "Exclusive: Harold and the Purple Crayon Headed to the Big Screen". Pajiba. Retrieved August 13, 2011.
  11. "Twitter". December 7, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  12. "Computer Game A Mash-Up Of Crayons, Physics". NPR. 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  13. "Crayon Physics Deluxe Interview". Binary Joy. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  14. Archived February 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  15. National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  16. Bird, Elizabeth (July 6, 2012). "Top 100 Picture Books Poll Results". A Fuse #8 Production. Blog. School Library Journal (blog.schoollibraryjournal.com). Retrieved August 19, 2012.
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