The children’s author Maurice Sendak recently released Bumble-Ardy, the first book in three decades that he’s both written and illustrated. In fact, the story is not exactly new–it’s adapted from a short film Sendak made for Sesame Street in 1970.
Bumble, the book, stars a pig (named, naturally, Bumble-Ardy) who invites a bunch of rowdy friends to a birthday party. Unsurprisingly, the friends cause a wild rumpus and a world of chaos. When Bumble’s aunt shows up, things get more than a little hairy.
As in the past, Sendak’s work is rife with Jewish themes, both subtly and overtly: Yiddish newspapers and Hebrew-lettered storefronts appear throughout the story, and Bumble’s own story–his parents were killed by a butcher when he was a baby–isn’t Jewish, per se, but it has overtures of a folktale from a shtetl or a Hasidic rabbi.
Bumble-Ardy is a story that entertains as much as it perplexes. Humorist and TV host Stephen Colbert, in an interview with Sendak, raved about the book, and gave it an unqualified endorsement. Well, an almost unqualified endorsement: “It’s a heartwarming story of a baby pig,” he said. “Everyone should read it…unless you’re Jewish!”