Tinker and Tanker is the first in a series of seven books written and illustrated by Richard Scarry. It was published by Doubleday & Company, Inc., in 1960.


No other author of children's books rivals the success of Richard Scarry. With sales of 300 million worldwide to his credit, he is a towering figure in the world of publishing. Yet for many years after attaining literary stardom, he spent every day from 8 to 4 closed up in a bare room so that he could concentrate on his work. What drove him on? He hardly needed more money. He himself said that his greatest joy was to receive letters from people telling him that their copies of his books were falling apart from so many readings. Evidently, what drove him on was a consuming desire to make people happy.

And indeed his books are full of happiness. Nothing bad happens in the world of Richard Scarry. It is all good fun appealing to the good nature of the reader. To open a Richard Scarry book is to submerge yourself in a pleasant atmosphere without equal in children's literature.

In every one of his books the writing is minimal. In some books, like his Best Word Book Ever, there are only labels for the pictures. Yet what might seem like a drawback is really an asset, for his books encourage direct communication between parent and child. The natural thing is to start talking about the book, the child asking questions, the adult providing explanations or filling in details or pointing out humorous sidelights. Ad-libbing is appropriate for any Scarry book. Recognizing that every scene is designed to trigger the child's sense of humor, an imaginative adult can easily turn reading time into a continuous laugh. Scarry's pictures are full of crazy impossibilities, dumb accidents, funny faces, and satirical exaggerations. His funniest books, favorites of both my sons and my grandchildren, feature the misadventures of Tinker and Tanker.

The Best Word Book Ever was a major formative influence in the lives of my sons. Night after night we perused it together. I employed it both to expand their vocabulary and to show them the world beyond their own experience. One result of my early use of read-aloud books, especially Scarry's, was that by age four they learned how to read. Our library included Best Word Book Ever; Busy, Busy World; What Do People Do All Day?; Great Big Schoolhouse; and Cars and Trucks and Things That Go.

Unfortunately, the most recent editions of Scarry's books are rather different from what I used. Most of his larger books have been condensed and dummied-down. Even worse, they have been overhauled to suit demands for political correctness. Any reference to a girl as pretty or beautiful has been deleted (these terms are considered sexist because they are not used for boys). Ladies have moved into the best or most rugged jobs. A comparison of the covers for the 1963 and 1991 editions of the Best Word Book Ever shows what to expect inside. In the original, a lady was pushing a baby buggy down the sidewalk, and a uniformed man was directing traffic. Now, the baby buggy is in the hands of a man and the officer in the street is a woman. One small change is an especially alarming signal of the new mindset. It occurs in the caption under a picture of a boy (actually, a bear, but in Scarry's books people are animals) walking through his house. The original says, "He comes promptly when he is called to breakfast." The new edition says, "He goes to the kitchen to eat his breakfast." In our brave new world, children are self-actualizing, autonomous beings loosed from the chains of parental authority.

The lesson to be drawn from this? If you can find a good copy of one of the Scarry classics in its original form, before being spoiled by ideologues in editors' clothing, pay what you must to obtain it.


Great Big Car and Truck Book (1951)

Rabbit and His Friends (1953)

Richard Scarry's Naughty Bunny (1959)

Tinker and Tanker (1960)

Tinker and Tanker Out West (1961)

Tinker and Tanker Build a Space Ship (1961)

Tinker and Tanker and the Pirates (1961)

Tinker and Tanker, Knights of the Round Table (1963)

Tinker and Tanker in Africa (1963)

Richard Scarry's What Animals Do (1963)

Best Word Book Ever (1963)

The Polite Elephant (1964)

Is This the House of Mistress Mouse? (1964)

Busy, Busy World (1965)

The Bunny Book (1965)

Richard Scarry's Storybook Dictionary (1966)

Richard Scarry's Planes (1967)

Richard Scarry's Trains (1967)

Richard Scarry's Boats (1967)

Richard Scarry's Cars (1967)

Egg in the Hole Book (1967)

Richard Scarry's The Early Bird (1968)

Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day? (1968)

Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever (1968)

Richard Scarry's Great Big Schoolhouse (1969)

Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever (1970)

Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever (1970)

More Adventures of Tinker and Tanker (1971)

Richard Scarry's ABC Word Book (1971)

Richard Scarry's Great Big Air Book (1971)

Richard Scarry's Best Stories Ever (1971)

Fun with Words (1971)

Going Places (1971)

Richard Scarry's Things to Know (1971)

Richard Scarry's Hop Aboard, Here We Go (1972)

Richard Scarry's Great Big Mystery Book (1972)

Nicky Goes to the Doctor (1972)

Richard Scarry's Funniest Storybook Ever (1972)

Richard Scarry's Please and Thank You Book (1973)

Richard Scarry's Babykins and His Family (1973)

Richard Scarry's Silly Stories (1973)

Richard Scarry's Find Your ABC's (1973)

Richard Scarry's Best Counting Book Ever (1973)

Richard Scarry's Best Rainy Day Book Ever: More than 500 Things to Color and Make (1974)

Cars and Trucks and Things That Go (1974)

Richard Scarry's Animal Nursery Tales (1975)

Richard Scarry's Great Steamboat Mystery (1975)

All Day Long (1976)

Early Words (1976)

Richard Scarry's Busiest People Ever (1976)

Storytime (1976)

Richard Scarry's Best Picture Dictionary Ever (1976)

Busy Town, Busy People (1976)

Six Golden Look-Look Books (1976)

Short and Tall (1976)

Richard Scarry's About Animals (1976)

On Vacation (1976)

My House (1976)

At Work (1976)

Richard Scarry's Color Book (1976)

Learn to Count (1976)

All Year Long (1976)

On the Farm (1976)

In My Town (1976)

Richard Scarry's Lowly Worm Storybook (1977)

Scarry's Best Make-It Book Ever (1977)

Richard Scarry's Little Counting Book (1978)

Richard Scarry's Lowly Worm Sniffy Book (1978)

Richard Scarry's Little ABC (1978)

Mr. Fixit and Other Stories (1978)

Little Bedtime Book (1978)

Richard Scarry's Postman Pig and His Busy Neighbors (1978)

Richard Scarry's Best First Book Ever (1979)

Richard Scarry's Mix or Match Storybook (1979)

Richard Scarry's Peasant Pig and the Terrible Dragon (1980)

Richard Scarry's Best Christmas Book Ever (1981)

Richard Scarry's Christmas Mice (1981)

Richard Scarry's Lowly Worm Word Book (1981)

Richard Scarry's Busy Houses (1981)

Richard Scarry's Pig Will and Pig Won't: Knee-High Book (1982)

Richard Scarry's Lowly Worm Bath Book (1984)

The Best Mistake Ever! and Other Stories (1984)

Richard Scarry's Busy Fun and Learn Book (1984)

Richard Scarry's Biggest Word Book Ever (1985)

Fun with Numbers (1986)

Fun with Words (1986)

Fun with Letters (1986)

Fun with Reading (1986)

Richard Scarry's Things to Love (1986)

Richard Scarry's Getting Ready for School Workbook (1987)

Richard Scarry's Busy Workers (1987)

Richard Scarry's Getting Ready for School Workbook (1987)

Richard Scarry's Things That Go (1987)

Splish-Splash (1988)

Richard Scarry's Best Times Ever: A Book About Seasons and Holidays (1988)

Richard Scarry's Sniff the Detective (1988)

Harry and Larry the Fishermen (1988)

Richard Scarry's Farmer Patrick Pig (1988)

Richard Scarry's Dr. Doctor (1988)

Richard Scarry's Frances Fix-It (1988)

Richard Scarry's Best Friend Ever (1989)

Richard Scarry's Best Ever (1989)

Richard Scarry's Bedtime Stories (1989)

Richard Scarry's All About Cars (1989)

Richard Scarry's Best Ride Ever (1989)

Richard Scarry's Best Two-Minute Stories Ever! (1989)

Richard Scarry's Mother Goose Scratch and Sniff Book (1989)

Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks: From A to Z (1990)

Richard Scarry's Just Right Word Book (1990)

Richard Scarry's Counting Book (1990)

Best Read It Yourself Book Ever: A Collection of 12 Easy to Read Stories (1990)

Richard Scarry's Be Careful, Mr. Frumble! (1990)

Richard Scarry's Watch Your Step, Mr Rabbit! (1991)

Richard Scarry's The Cat Family's Busy Day (1991)

Richard Scarry's Mr. Frumble's Worst Day Ever! (1991)

Richard Scarry's The Cat Family Takes a Trip (1991)

Richard Scarry's Best Year Ever (1991)

ABCs (1991)

Huckle Cat's Busiest Day Ever (1992)

Mr. Frumble: Richard Scarry's Smallest Pop-Up Book (1992)

Richard Scarry's Best Little Word Book Ever! (1992)

Mr. Fix-It: Richard Scarry's Smallest Pop-Up Book (1992)

Richard Scarry's Bananas Gorilla (1992)

Sergeant Murphy's Busiest Day Ever: Richard Scarry (1992)

Richard Scarry's Biggest Pop-Up Book Ever! (1992)

Richard Scarry's Biggest Make-It Book Ever! (1993)

Colors (1993)

First Words: Richard Scarry (1993)

Richard Scarry's The Three Little Pigs (1993)

Richard Scarry's The Three Bears (1993)

Richard Scarry's Little Red Riding Hood (1993)

Pie Rats Ahoy! (1994)


Richard's wife Patricia was also a writer of children's book. Some of his early works are collaborations with his wife. Richard died in 1994, but his work is carried on by his son, Huck Scarry, who sometimes writes under the name of his father.


The Tinker and Tanker books have long been out of print, and used copies are expensive. Yet a large number of others by Scarry are still in print, although, as we have said, many contain indefensible alterations, leaving the original editions preferable.


Ages 1-7 for most of his books.