Sendak transforms the Edgar Taylor translation, which runs along the top half of each page over his pictures, into a play...

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KING GRISLY-BEARD

Sendak transforms the Edgar Taylor translation, which runs along the top half of each page over his pictures, into a play within a tale within a sort of magically animated comic strip. Even before the opening line he marches a characteristically dumpy boy and girl (reminiscent of his Woman's Day Christmas pair of a year or so back) through the flyleaf, title and dedication pages, etc., as they apply (to a portly, booted impresario who asks, ""But can you act?"") and prepare (donning crowns and costumes) ""to play the leading roles in Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm's fabulous King Grisly-Beard."" Their performance -- complete with balloon exclamations, a small white terrier (on loan from the Mother Goose Theater?) and changing backgrounds that don't bother to resemble stage props -- constitutes the illustrations, extending and propelling the action much as Sendak's Hector Protector pictures enlarged the nursery rhyme. It's an unpretentiously perfect expression of Sendak's (or any child's) feeling for the synergistic layering of fantasy and reality. As for the story, however -- let's just say that we'd prefer to give the snooty princess' lesson (handed off by her father to the first beggar at the door because no suitor would satisfy her, she endures hardship and humiliation before her husband reveals himself as a king she has earlier rejected) a socialist rather than a sexist interpretation.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1973