Maurice Sendak, author of 'Where the Wild Things Are,' is back after 30 years with a new book called Bumble-Ardy.
Bumble-Ardy is the first book Maurice Sendak has both written and illustrated in 30 years. I called him the other day to talk about it, and we were both surprised it had been that long. “Jesus,” he said. “What have I been doing?” We went through a list. He designed operas here and abroad, illustrated dozens of books—by Tony Kushner and Herman Melville and Shakespeare, among many others—and had a best-seller just a few years ago, in Mommy?, a pop-up book about a boy looking for his mother in a haunted mansion.
But in terms of a book completely his own, Bumble-Ardy is the first since 1981’s Outside Over There. Not that he wants to make a big deal out of it. “People from New York have been calling, to see if I’m still alive. When I answer the phone, you can hear the disappointment in their voice.”
Sendak’s sense of humor is pitch-black and ribald, though this fact, and the baroque essence of his work, is often lost on readers now that his books have become canonical. “A woman came up to me the other day and said, ‘You’re the kiddie-book man!’ I wanted to kill her.” He hates to be thought of as safe or his work as classic, and he won’t tolerate overpraise. “My work is not great, but it’s respectable. I have no false illusions.”
He’s wrong, of course. Sendak is the best-known, and by most measures simply the best, living creator of picture books, and in the stretch of years since his most prolific period—when he made In the Night Kitchen, Where the Wild Things Are, Kenny’s Window, The Sign on Rosie’s Door, and the “Nutshell Library”—his work has only grown in stature. No one has been more uncompromising, more idiosyncratic, and more in touch with the unhinged and chiaroscuro subconscious of a child.
- Dave Eggers, writing for Vanity Fair
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