Edgier than Sesame’s original, this contains all the layered meaning that makes Sendak’s books readable over and over....

A master reincarnates his old Sesame Street cartoon with a dark pathos and fascinating manic energy.

As one of the original architects of gleeful mischief and serious woe in modern picture books, Sendak employs both here. “Did you know / That Bumble-Ardy missed / Eight birthdays in a row?” opens the narration, the weeping porcine protagonist placing trotter to forehead. His original family “frowned on fun” and then (being pigs) “got ate,” landing Bumble with adoptive “Adeline, that aunt divine.” Luckily, “Bumble-Ardy had a party when he was nine.” A pleasant, mild illustration shows Adeline in their slatted, open-air house presenting cake and gift, Bumble murmuring “Yippee!” But emotional complexity lurks: Bumble’s eyes are red-rimmed, and nearby animals look gloomy and skeptical. Adeline gone to work, Bumble (permission-less) invites “grubby swine // To come for birthday cake and brine.” Costumes evoke Bread & Puppet and Cinco de Mayo at this rambunctious masquerade ball; partiers revel with sinister gusto. During the multi-spread rumpus, rhyme sneaks onto signs: “Cheers! / Cheers! / Cheers! / May Bumble live 900 years!” When furious Adeline ejects the guests, her face morphs into a horror mask, but then she “Took in her Bumble valentine / And kissed him nine times over nine. // Now, ain’t that fine?” Children and parents both will require many trips through to even begin to accommodate the emotional shifts here.

Edgier than Sesame’s original, this contains all the layered meaning that makes Sendak’s books readable over and over. (Picture book. 4 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-205198-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Michael di Capua/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


From the How To Catch… series

Only for dedicated fans of the series.

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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