Harold and the Purple Crayon
Harold and the Purple Crayon (book).jpg
First edition
AuthorCrockett Johnson
CountryUnited States
GenreChildren's novel
Scholastic Corporation
Weston Woods
Publication date
[E] 22
LC ClassMLCS 2006/43120 (P)

Harold and the Purple Crayon is a 1955 children's book by Crockett Johnson. Published by Harper Collins Publishers, it is Johnson's most popular book, and has led to a series of other books, as well as many adaptations.


The protagonist, Harold, is a curious 4-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


The original story was adapted by Weston Woods Studios (distribution starting in 1969) 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. These stories were featured on the popular CBS children's television show Captain Kangaroo, which ran for 30 years from 1955 to 1984 before moving to PBS for six more. 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 Duff 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.

The book is spoofed in the Robot Chicken episode "Bugs Keith in: I Can't Call Heaven, Doug".

Television series

Harold and the Purple Crayon
Developed byCarin Greenberg Baker
Jeff Kline
Voices ofConnor Matheus
Narrated bySharon Stone
ComposersVan Dyke Parks
Kevin Kiner
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes13 (list of episodes)
Executive producerJeff Kline
ProducerBob Hathcock
Running time23 minutes
Production companiesAdelaide 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.[8] The series won a Daytime Emmy Award for "Main Title Design", and was nominated for an Annie Award and Humanitas Prize.[9][10] The show was also released on VHS and DVD.

The series 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 GilliesJanuary 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 GilliesFebruary 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 GilliesMarch 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.


Main article: Harold and the Purple Crayon (film)

In February 2010, it was reported that Columbia Pictures was developing a live-action film adaptation of Harold and the Purple Crayon, to be produced by Will Smith and James Lassiter, and written by Josh Klausner.[11] In December 2016, it was reported that the film would also be written by Dallas Clayton.[12]

On February 1, 2021, it was reported that Zachary Levi would star in the film, though it was not stated what role he would play. It was also announced that David Guion and Michael Handelman replaced Klausner and Clayton as screenwriters, with John Davis producing.[13] While Zooey Deschanel was added in the cast, it was announced director Carlos Saldanha is attached to direct the new film.[14] The film has set a release date of January 27, 2023.[15] It will also be Saldanha’s first feature film after working on Blue Sky Studios' Spies in Disguise in 2019, which after the studio went defunct in 2021, he did not work on another film after that.

Broadway musical

On March 11, 2022, a Broadway musical adaptation was announced with songs made by AJR and will focus on an adult version of Harold facing challenges in everyday life without his magical purple crayon.[16]


The book inspired programmer Petri Purho to create the computer game Crayon Physics Deluxe.[17][18] The book has been used frequently in children's and art education lesson plans.[19] Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association listed the book as one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children".[20] In 2012 it was ranked number 16 among the "Top 100 Picture Books" in a survey published by School Library Journal.[21]

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 the book This Thing Called Life by the author Neal Karlen, Prince's mother Mattie Shaw confirmed that his favourite book as a child was Harold and the Purple Crayon and was the reason for Prince's love of the colour purple. Karlen, Neal (October 2, 2020). This Thing Called Life: Prince's Odyssey, On and Off the Record. USA: Macmillan USA. p. 43. ISBN 978-1250135247.

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) at IMDb
  5. ^ "Harold and the Purple Crayon". DC Theatre Scene. 2008-09-24. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  6. ^ [1] Archived February 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "iTunes Store". itunes.apple.com. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  8. ^ Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 267. ISBN 978-1538103739.
  9. ^ "Sony Pictures | The Best in Movies, TV Shows, Games & Apps". Haroldandthepurplecrayontv.com. Archived from the original on 2008-05-27. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  10. ^ Harold and the Purple Crayon (2002) at IMDb
  11. ^ Rowles, Dustin (February 25, 2010). "Exclusive: Harold and the Purple Crayon Headed to the Big Screen". Pajiba. Retrieved August 13, 2011.
  12. ^ Tracking Board [@MyTrackingBoard] (December 7, 2016). ".@dallasclayton tapped to write adaptation of "Harold and the Purple Crayon" for Sony Animation (EXCLUSIVE) t.co/4TCmjXGD45 t.co/OLNUGitm1n" (Tweet). Retrieved April 17, 2022 – via Twitter.
  13. ^ Kit, Borys (February 1, 2021). "Zachary Levi to Star in Sony's Live-Action 'Harold and the Purple Crayon' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  14. ^ "Zooey Deschanel Joins Sony's Live-Action 'Harold and the Purple Crayon' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 9 February 2022.
  15. ^ Pedersen, Erik (September 9, 2021). "Sony Sets Dates For Whitney Houston & George Foreman Biopics, Two Others; 'Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile' On The Move". Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  16. ^ AJR [@AJRBrothers] (March 11, 2022). "Been waiting to announce this for a minute now. Big Broadway dreams slowly coming true 🖍 t.co/emjOCV0OaX" (Tweet). Archived from the original on March 14, 2022. Retrieved April 17, 2022 – via Twitter.
  17. ^ "Computer Game A Mash-Up Of Crayons, Physics". NPR. 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  18. ^ "Crayon Physics Deluxe Interview". Binary Joy. 24 November 2007. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  19. ^ [2] Archived February 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Archived from the original on July 30, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  21. ^ Bird, Elizabeth (July 6, 2012). "Top 100 Picture Books Poll Results". A Fuse #8 Production. Blog. School Library Journal (blog.schoollibraryjournal.com). Archived from the original on December 4, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2012.