Reading more like a private joke (and a rather mean-spirited one at that) than a story, this posthumous effort may please...



Based on Sendak’s series of 10 illustrations of Czech nonsense rhymes, an equally nonsensical story.

According to Yorinks’ afterword, he and Sendak cooked it up on a lark, “riffing on a story that might turn these disparate pictures into a cohesive picture book.” “Cohesive” is a stretch. The title characters find themselves one day in Limboland, where a “maniac shepherd boy” apprises them of the sugar beets’ imminent nuptials. Told by a goat that if no one brings a present they will “all be stuck in Limboland forever,” and learning that there is only one possible present—the monster Bumbo’s bagpipes—they determine to secure it. Their peregrinations take them past myriad peculiar scenes: a wood chopper taking an axe to a loaf of bread, a bear sewing his wedding outfit, a man cooking a woman in a cauldron, and “an old woman from the old country…using mumbo-jumbo and heebie-jeebie,” among others. They successfully steal the bagpipes, attend the wedding, eat cake, and go home. The framed, full-page illustrations, each set opposite a block of text, are trademark Sendak, populated by doughy, white humans and expressive animals in an Old World setting. Each taken by itself presents a patently absurd scenario that invites readers unfamiliar with the original rhymes to speculate on its circumstances. However, the narrative imposed by Yorinks and Sendak both closes off that avenue of imagination and fails to present anything resembling a satisfying story. Yorinks writes of the initial “brainstorming session” that “all I specifically remember…is…both of us laughing like crazy.”

Reading more like a private joke (and a rather mean-spirited one at that) than a story, this posthumous effort may please scholars but is likely to disappoint readers hoping for a new Sendak on par with his earlier works . (Picture book. 5-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-264465-7

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Michael di Capua/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet