Maurice Sendak's 1963 monster classic Where the Wild Things Are is one of America's most adored children's stories, treasured for its dark, imaginative undertones and emotional realism. Now, for the first time in 30 years, Sendak has a new book out. Bumble-Ardy tells the story of a rebellious, under-parented pig who throws himself a wild party for his ninth birthday. Some are thrilled that Sendak, at age 83, has put out a new book in his unique style, but others say that Bumble-Ardy, which features a visit from the Grim Reaper, is just too scary for children. One Amazon reviewer calls it a "disturbing book in so many ways." Has Sendak gotten too dark and wild for kids?
This book is awfully menacing for youngsters: "Bumble-Ardy won't give children nightmares, but its violent undertones and pervading theme of disappointment" are more appropriate for adults than young kids, says Stephan Lee at Entertainment Weekly. Sure, Sendak isn't known for his sunny stories, "but this one lacks the redeeming spirit of adventure that infused every page of Wild Things." The illustrations are also pretty edgy, depicting "decidedly uncute… perversely ugly" characters.
"Bumble-Ardy: Maurice Sendak is back with a piggy tale"
Well, what else would you expect from Sendak? The renowned author is known for pushing close to "the absolute limits," or "at least poking around their edges," says Matt Peckham at TIME. Sure, the Grim Reaper stops by, but it's good to give readers a bit of a fright. "Where the Wild Things Are would be nothing without its nightmarish horned and bearded monsters that 'roared their terrible roars, and gnashed their terrible teeth.'" Is this new tale really so different?
"Should parents fear Bumble-Ardy, Maurice Sendak's new book?"
If anything, it scares parents more than kids: "The book will challenge parents for the same reason it will thrill children: Briefly, it permits the dream of misbehavior without reproach or consequences," says John Fassler at The Atlantic. Parents might want to shield their kids from a book featuring death, drunkenness, and rebellion. But "ultimately…like Wild Things, Bumble-Ardy offers children a safe way to explore the fantasy of parentlessness — before returning, content and reassured, to loving arms."
"Maurice Sendak's long history of scaring kids (and their parents)"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Pope Francis' American problem
- Are there dogs in heaven? Let's hope not.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- This week I learned your coin toss odds are better than you think, and more
- Cuba should beware of Westerners bearing gifts
Subscribe to the Week