Harold and the Purple Crayon

TV review by
KJ Dell Antonia, Common Sense Media
Harold and the Purple Crayon TV Poster Image
Busby Berkley musicals for the preschool set.

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Kids say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value

Models problem solving and getting past fears and challenges.

Positive Messages

Promotes imagination and creative problem-solving.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Harold's parents are clearly present in the house when Harold begins to drift off into his purple-crayon-drawn fantasy landscapes, but usually the parents are viewed as a disembodied hand turning off a light switch before Harold's adventures begin, thus they're not available to help him when he needs it. Instead, Harold thinks and draws himself out of his own problems, a concept which may be slightly threatening to kids, but also enormously encouraging and validating. Harold himself is thoughtful and dreamy, and generally kind to the various creatures he encounters on his imaginary journeys.

Violence & Scariness
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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Harold can sometimes find himself in frightening situations, and a child who's easily scared may be worried, even though Harold usually saves himself quickly. Things that pass with a turn of the page in the books -- like dragons and lions with too many teeth -- linger longer and appear scarier on screen.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byThreeDaysGracesGirl October 29, 2010
Very good. Nothing more left to say.

What's the story?

In HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON, a clever adaptation of the 1950s picture books by author-illustrator Crockett Johnson, Harold's crayon drawings come to life or create real scenes, sometimes with unexpected results. He takes boat rides, tries to find the source of the rain, creates a circus, and has other adventures, all after a nicely predictable bedtime sequence and all ending with his return to bed. Sharon Stone narrates the stories in a soothing tone, which helps them to remain stories and eases the impact of any frightening elements.

Is it any good?

The series stays close in tone and appearance to Johnson's books, and this adherence to the language, stylized art, and even the cinematic style of the '50s gives it much of its charm. Each episode features a short song or two with Busby Berkeley-esque animations: synchronized Harold reflections, raindrops, or animals dancing merrily along. The entire show has the feel of an early kids' television special like The Cat in the Hat, though the songs aren't nearly as catchy -- a weakness, but at least they're short.

Because the dangers Harold faces are big (monsters, cliffs) but very quickly resolved, and because of the elements of fantasy and magic, this is a good program for kids ready to move from the tame world of preschool TV but not yet ready for real action-adventure. And a parent or even a slightly older child watching along will find much to enjoy -- and even get an occasional snicker.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Harold never gives up and his ability to find a creative solution to any problem. Spark kids' imagination: What could Harold draw to power a boat, or reach the moon, or whatever he needs to do at that moment? Fans of the books will enjoy spotting images and situations that first appeared on the page and seeing how the book and the show differ. Which version do your kids prefer? Why?

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