Book Features Grim Reaper At Birthday Party, Upsets Parents

A new book by the author of Where the Wild Things Are has parents upset over its supposedly scary content. But are moms and dads overestimating the dangers of a frightening read?

According to the Christian Science Monitor, Maurice Sendak's new book Bumble-Ardy is about a pig who decides to throw his own ninth birthday party. But the party includes some upsetting guests, including the Grim Reaper. The Washington Post also mentions attendees in "grotesque costume masks," and adds,

Parents may feel particularly nervous because the monsters in this story appear inside the house, not on a remote island as they were in "Wild Things." And they may not be pleased by the debauched pigs who attend the party, swigging brine. (In the first draft, the pigs drank wine, but Sendak conceded and changed it to brine for the final version.)

Sendak, however, may not be particularly sympathetic — he told the Times, "Essentially, there is no protecting children. None." And while he notes that his books always "end safely," they're a lot more entertaining than children's stories where nothing scary ever happens. It's also pretty hard for adults to predict what will actually freak children out. I don't remember being frightened by any Maurice Sendak books as a child (I do remember thinking the blood-red clouds in Dear Mili were awesome), but I was terrified of Pizza the Hut in Space Balls, and, somewhat inexplicably, the woodpile in our backyard. Wanting to protect kids from being scared is a natural impulse, but as Sendak says, it's simply not possible to protect them from everything that might freak them out.

Maurice Sendak Scares Parents With New Book [Christian Science Monitor]
Maurice Sendak's New Book Scares ... Parents [Washington Post]
On The Phone With Maurice Sendak [NYT]