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Crockett Johnson's Characters: Others from the 1960s

We Wonder What Will Walter Be? When He Grows Up | The Emperor's Gifts | Gordy and the Pirate

We Wonder What Will Walter Be? When He Grows Up


Although his episodic quest for what to become recalls The Little Prince (1943), Walter is not as profound as Antoine de Saint-Exupery's characters. But, clad in grey trousers and a black t-shirt, he could pass for a young existentialist, learning to accept the burdens of his freedom. Irrespective of his dark attire, Walter is not somber; he is instead thoughtful, marked by that inquisitive spirit which characterizes nearly all of Johnson's fictional creations.

The Lion
The Lion

A gentle lion who takes Walter's question seriously, he acts with good intentions, and offers Walter the most sage advice of all: "Whatever you decide, be sure to make your decision bravely, without fear. Think boldly!"

The Emperor's Gifts

The Emperor
The Emperor

Like the Lion in We Wonder What Will Walter Be?, the Emperor seems to have arrived from a parable. He is young, wise, and able to gauge the needs of the six kings who visit him. He speaks very little, saying only "Thank you" for each gift and adding that each "is good to have." A good listener, he rules well and with an understanding beyond his years.

Gordy and the Pirate and the Circus Ringmaster and the Knight and the Major League Manager and the Western Marshal and the Astronaut; and a Remarkable Achievement


The last of Johnson's small children with big imaginations, Gordy differs from his predecessors in one very significant aspect. While Harold and Ellen dream themselves into many adventures, Gordy works to keep his adventurous desires in check. Like the Emperor (in The Emperor's Gifts), Gordy meets one distinct character after another. But the Emperor must think to solve the problems of those he meets; Gordy, on the other hand, must resist others' problems in order to successfully go "straight home."


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All of Johnson's text and artwork is © by the Estate of Ruth Krauss.
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Last updated Wednesday, August 3, 2005.