The world’s children rejoice on news of new books by Seuss, Sendak.
Don’t you love synchronicity? Dr. Seuss has been dead for 20 years, while Maurice Sendak, though very old, has simply not chosen to both write and illustrate a children’s book in the past three decades. Yet both these titans will publish new work in the Fall. Children of all ages cry: Huzzah!
Or they would if they lived around the time of the Civil War. So we’ll just say: Yay!
As Alison Flood reports in the Guardian, a Massachusetts dentist named Charles Cohen put some tearsheets up for sale on e-bay in 2001, where they were seen by the author’s art director, Cathy Goldsmith. Curious to see if they were genuine, she traveled to visit Cohen, along with a Random House executive. Were they ever.
“His house was literally bursting at the seams with Seussiana,” recalls Kate Klimo, Random House v-p and publisher. “Plush, toys, beer trays, puzzles, and a wide range of ephemera. Not only that, Dr Cohen was a fount of Seuss information, history, and theories about Ted’s artistic process.”
Out of that initial visit came Cohen’s 2003 book, The Seuss, the Whole Seuss and Nothing But the Seuss, which Klimo describes as “a nearly encyclopedic look” at the career of Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel. But Cohen had also unearthed “little seen” Seuss stories published in 1950s magazines that he thought should see the light of day.
Now at last a collection of these lost stories will appear in September as The Bippolo Seed, with an introduction by Cohen explaining the significance of these particular stories in Seuss’s development as a writer and illustrator.
As Klimo says, these stories were produced during “Dr. Seuss’s most fertile period” when his “theories on how to reach children through rhyme, rhythm, and a resonant combination of nonsense and sagacity, were coming into full bloom.”
She adds: “The stories are as good as anything in the already-published canon and readers of all ages are in for a treat.”
As for Sendak, it’s a bit of shock to learn that he hasn’t written and illustrated a new children’s book since Outside Over There came out in 1981. Not that he’s been idle. In addition to illustrating numerous books by other authors, like one of my all-time favorites, Wilhelm Grimm’s Dear Mili (1988), he’s also pursued a distinguished second career as a set designer, primarily for ballet and opera.
Now 83, Sendak has written and illustrated Bumble-Ardy, the story of a pig who throws a birthday part for himself — only to let things “quickly get out of hand,” according to this story in the Guardian, where Alison Flood (her again?!) likens the exuberant shenanigans of the new book to Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are.
Though the book may be new, Flood reports, the story has been in development since the 1970s, when Sendak developed it as an animated spot for “Sesame Street.” Bumble-Ardy was a little boy in that version, however.
Sendak has sold 30 million copies of the more than 100 books he’s written and-or illustrated since the late 1940s, with Where the Wild Things Are alone accounting for 10 million. He told the Wall Street Journal recently that he had been unable to forget Bumble.
“He was funny,” Sendak said. “He was robust. He was sly. He was a sneak. He was all the things I like.” Why did he change the As for why he changed Bumble into a pig, he said, it was because “boys tend, generally speaking, to be pigs”