Richard Scarry versus Mercer Mayer versus Stan and Jan Berenstein versus Dr. Seuss

Who was your favorite children’s writer/illustrator?

I’m conflicted.

I like them all to varying degrees.

Seuss remains, hands down, the best writer of them all. I’m on the fence about his illustrating talents. He was enormously skilled, but his drawings don’t always engage me like the others.

Early Berenstain was enormously better than their later works, which seemed to suffer from overexposure, and an unfortunate decline in quality and questionable plot lines I first noticed with The Berenstain Bears And Poppa’s Nasty Old Bout Of Diarrhea, but I will always, always love The Berenstain Bears and The Spooky Old Tree.

Richard Scarry was God. Oh, how I loved his detailed illustrations. I loved his characters – the most expressive of all the bunch here.

Finally there’s Mercer Mayer. Mercer I loved for his monsters, period.

Maybe I should rank them.

Maybe someone else here has stronger opinions.

This is actually a very good question and I hate you for making me choose. Which is why I’m going with the person you left out; Maurice Sendak.

Outside Over There may be one of my favourite picture books.

I’m going to have to go with a “None of the Above” as well and nominate Shel Silverstein. Brilliant!

Tne only reason I left off Maurice Sendak is that his output of books he’d written and drawn himself was not nearly as great as those listed above, and I didn’t think it was fair comparison.

Sendak I’d include with folks like Shel Silverstein and H.A. and Marget Rey of Curious George fame and maybe Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff of the Babar series. Somewhere between the output of these two groups is someone like Beatrix Potter.

Scarry does it for my daughter. Also in close competition is Jan Brett. Her illustrations for The Owl and the Pussycat are the best ever.

This thread does not bode well when my first two respondants refuse to vote for those running for office and write-in their own candidates. :smiley: Ptooey on democracy!

Suess is #1. No one even comes close.

Sendak is #2.

Richard Scarry is just plain mediocre. Cutesy crap, almost like a parody of what a children’s illustrator does. I never could stand him.

I don’t think of the Berenstains as children’s illustrators; as a kid, I was most familiar with their work in adult-oriented books like Lover Boy and Marital Blitz, which I read and reread.

Chris Van Allsburg - sadly, they keep making crappy movies out of his books, but the books are good if you forget that they were ever filmed. “The Z Was Zapped” is a great A-B-C book,not as good as Uncle Shelby’s, but you can give it to children.

Of the ones listed, Seuss.

Well, I don’t know why people wouldn’t vote for Richard Scarry with books like these.

E.H. Shepard

**amarinth. ** Chris Van Allsburg is terrific.

RealityChuck. When you consider Seuss as a writer alone, I absolutely agree no one comes close to his being #1. When you consider his skills as an illustrator, tho – eh. I’m not so sure. Did Seuss ever draw backgrounds?

Muffin. I liked his drawings, too, but Shepard was not the writer of Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne was.

Okay, I see where this is going…

PEOPLE! If you’re gonna hurt my feelings and just blithely ignore my carefully selected candidates and nominate your own to just to spite me and show off your obviously superior knowledge of children’s books writers/illustrators and, as I deeply suspect, make me look like a twittering idiot for not including your examples when they prove to be obvious, brilliant choices that I should never have overlooked or worse, overlooked choices with obvious brilliance I should have been aware of in the first place, please… allow me to save a little face by making sure 1) your candidates both write AND draw children’s books, and to have a body of work fairly evaluated in the same category as a Berenstain, a Seuss, a Mayer or a Scarry 2) have published at least twenty of the suckers. THAT’S RIGHT I SAID “TWENTY.” Yeah, yeah… that leaves out Maurice Sendak, Chris Van Allsburg and I think Allen Say. But as punishment to me, it opens up the door wide open for the poo-poo jokes of Dav Pilkey. Publishing is harsh.

Okay, thanks.

Richard Scarry, no question. I loved all the details on every page. There was recently a thread on which fictional characters you would want to be friends with, and I was remiss in not saying Lowly Worm. It would be excellent to have Lowly Worm as a friend. Weird, but excellent.

Do you remember the Greatest Storybook Ever? When I was very little, I thought the lion on the front cover was some sort of author’s photo. I was convinced that Richard Scarry was a giant lion who wore overalls.

I also had toys based on the Scarry characters – sort of like the Fisher Price Little People, but much better. It was called Puzzletown, and you had to build the houses and do the landscaping yourself. Apparently they only made a small number of these sets, once, for 20 minutes, because no one else seems to remember them.

Dr. Seuss, on the other hand, wigged me right the freak out when I was a kid. It’s a taste I picked up as an adult, but I don’t have good associations with him from childhood.

This reminds me of a story about Dr. Seuss (my pick for best author/illustrator- master of the rhyme and a damn fine artist). Apparently, when he made appearances to promote his books, children were disappointed that he was just an ordinary guy. Since the characters in his books were so bizarre they expected he would be, too.

As a parent reading the books to kids (6 & 7 y.o, but mostly at this point to the 6 y.o. child), I like the Dr. Seuss books better - they are the best written, and I like the word play - and they also have themes that I enjoy considering from an adult perspective (Sneeches, Butter Battle, etc.). I find the illustrations in Richard Scarry to be the most rich - there is always something else going on besides the main focus of the panel, but they aren’t as enjoyable to read to kids, although I think that I prefered his work when I was a kid (oh, so long ago).

I’m not sure if Graeme Base meets your “output” criteria, but his illustrations are very visually rich, and he has interesting rhymes (but maybe for older kids?).

Our kids’ tastes fluctuate a lot, so we go in cycles in what is most popular around the house - luckily our libraries are very good! :slight_smile:

Berenstein Bears just plain suck. They don’t even have names! That always made me mad.

I vote for Dr. Seuss, out of the 4 authors in the OP.

My gut tells me to go with Seuss, but the Berenstein Bears are a really close second. I never liked Scarry as a child and I still don’t. I had to look up Mercer Meyer, so I apparently didn’t find his work memorable.

#1 - Edward Gorey (well, they’re *sort-of *kid’s books, in the Struwelpieter tradition)

If not for your later dictatorial conditions, Askia, I’d put Sendak at the top.

And no love for** Beatrix Potter**?

…but if it has to be one of the ones in the OP, I’d go for Richard Scarry. Seuss is OK, but a greater innovator than illustrator IMO. I fucking hate the Berenstains and don’t know Mayers from a bar of soap, but Scarry’s detailed whimsy appeals to me. I always thought he was European (the Busytown police wear kepis, for instance), but it turns out he only lived there from 1972. Still, Busytown’s always been a small European city to me.

Sadly he only seems to have around 12 titles as an author/illustrator, but my rules-breaking write-in candidate is Arnold Lobel. The Frog and Toad books, Small Pig, Owl at Home, Fables, Uncle Elephant, Mouse Soup – I like every one of his books a lot.

To answer the very sensitive original question, I have never read my daughter a Berenstain Bears book, I think they’re crap; I like Meyer’s non-Critter books but the Critter stuff is just awful; Richard Scarry seems a little weak to me, although I do like his obsessive here’s-every-kind-of-boat-crammed-on-one-page books, and I like the way he draws pigs. It’s Seuss by seven lengths. You don’t have to be Albrecht Dürer to draw great children’s books.

As a kid, Scarry was my absolute favorite. Who cared about the story, there was just so much going on in every page!