September 2011

Pigs-gone-wild birthday rumpus

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In the world of children’s literature, Maurice Sendak, the beloved creator of Where the Wild Things Are, is a giant, and fans have been waiting 30 years for him to both write and illustrate another book. The wait is finally over with Bumble-Ardy, a riotous birthday tale that began as a character Sendak first developed in 1971 for an animated short on “Sesame Street.” Over the years, Sendak transformed the character from a boy into a pig—a poor, poor pig who is about to turn nine and has never had a birthday party.

Sendak tells the story in narration reminiscent of Edward Gorey’s wonderful black humor, explaining that Bumble-Ardy’s parents “frowned on fun” and didn’t celebrate birthdays. Then, things got even worse. When Bumble turned eight, his family “gorged and gained weight. / And got ate.”

Luckily, Aunt Adeline, a cosmopolitan working pig, adopts the orphaned Bumble. June 10 approaches, which is Bumble’s (and Sendak’s) birthday, so Bumble decides to throw himself a party while his aunt heads to work.

A riot of fun ensues, with costumed pigs guzzling Aunt Adeline’s brine. Eventually, Bumble’s aunt returns home, shouting at the revelers to scram. Meanwhile, Sendak fans have been treated to page after page of the master’s wild, wonderful illustrations.

Let’s hear it for Maurice Sendak and these delightful party animals!

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