Maurice Sendak Defends ‘Scary’ New Book

Kids’ writer Maurice Sendak– never one to parse words- is back with a book that has unsurprisingly gotten some flak from the overprotecting parents brigade.

Sendak most recently made news after the film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are was criticized by parents who felt the classic book- about a little boy who goes to bed (gasp!) with no dinner before becoming a “wild thing”- was too scary. Sendak rightly told the whining moms and dads to “go to hell,” eliciting a few more fevered upset from the apparent committee to pretend kids don’t love scary and edgy shit.

Sendak authored and illustrated In The Night Kitchen and The Nutshell Library, and is out with his first written and illustrated book in 30 years. Bumble-Ardy follows a nine-year-old pig and his quest to have the ultimate birthday party, having been deprived his whole life.

CSM describes a bit of the controversy:

At one point in “Bumble-Ardy”, Sendak introduces the Grim Reaper, not an image that every parent wants her children dwelling on as they go to sleep. One reviewer on Amazon.com wrote that “Bumble-Ardy” was a “disturbing book in so many ways.” Sendak sees it the other way around. It is parents who are scaredy cats, he argues, frightened to deal with the nightmarish fantasies and even murderous impulses with which children are familiar and which books such as “Alice in Wonderland” explore.

Sendak refers to other, popular and more milquetoast kids’ fare that he says he isn’t against- but he consciously acknowledges he’s bucking the trend:

“It’s not a putdown of those earlier books. But basically, they went by the rules that children should be safe and that we adults should be their guardians. I got out of that, and I was considered outlandish. So be it.”

It would be kind of cool if all the parents who find it a bigger crime our kids might never be exposed to Maurice Sendak books got together and formed some kind of outrage group, but I think that particular demographic too busy living their lives and teaching their children actual useful things to have time for such a ridiculous venture.