Harold and the Purple Crayon — Simple Children’s Book or Complex Allegory?

Harold and the Purple Crayon, with its purple lines and the bald, footie pajama-wearing Harold, is one of those easily recognizable children’s books. The concept–a child, his crayon, and his imagination–is so simple, but entirely engaging.  Throughout the book, Harold relies on his own ideas and artistic execution to solve the conflicts that arise.

As he makes his way through the world he creates, there’s no adult to jump in and guide Harold or talk him out of what he’s doing. Harold is perfectly capable and completely free to create whatever comes to mind: a lovely approach to problem solving.

The book winds down at the end with Harold creating his own room and bed, and then he literally draws up the covers.  Seems like a nice ending for a bedtime story, doesn’t it?

On another note, Harold and the Purple Crayon may be more complex than most of us think, according to a review written by a person who goes by the alias Deranged Classicist. This person speculates that the book is an allegorical retelling of Books 1-6 of Virgil’s Aeneid. Since I haven’t read the Aeneid, I can’t agree or disagree with the review, but I do find the review fascinating. Read it here. If you can confirm or deny the facts listed in the Deranged Classicist’s review, let us know in the comments below.

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