Richard Scarry, writer of children's books, dies in Switzerland

May 03, 1994|By New York Times News Service

Richard Scarry, a best-selling author and illustrator of children's books, died Saturday at Saanen hospital in Gstaad, Switzerland. He was 74 and lived in Gstaad.

The cause was a heart attack, said his son, Richard Jr. of Gstaad.

Mr. Scarry (the name rhymes with carry), who was born in Boston and moved to Switzerland in 1968, once wrote: "It's a preciousthing to be communicating to children, helping them discover the gift of language and thought. I'm happy to be doing it."

Mr. Scarry's illustrations are noted for being crammed with details that toddlers find enthralling, especially children learning to talk.

Ole Risom, a former Golden Books and Random House publishing executive who worked with him for years, estimated yesterday that more than 100 million Scarry books have been sold in the United States and other countries.

Robin Warner, the publisher of Golden Books, said Mr. Scarry wrote and illustrated more than 250 books over the years. His works were translated into dozens of languages.

Ms. Warner said that "Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever," published in 1965 by Golden Books, has sold 4 million copies and that more than 60 million copies of Golden Books by him have been printed.

"The Busy World of Richard Scarry," an animated TV series, began running on the Showtime cable channel and in Canada this year.

He wrote eight of the top 50 best-selling hardcover children's books of all time, according to a list published in 1989 by Publishers Weekly, the trade publication, excluding foreign and book club sales.

Widely read books by Mr. Scarry include "Richard Scarry's Please & Thank You" (Random House, 1973) and "Richard Scarry's Find Your ABC's" (Random House, 1973).

In addition to his son, who writes and illustrates children's books as Huck Scarry, Mr. Scarry is survived by his wife of more than 40 years, the former Patricia Murphy; three brothers, John James, Edward and Leo, all of Boston; a sister, Barbara Halton of Holyoke, Mass.; and two granddaughters.

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