BUMBLE-ARDY Book Poster Image




Confusing tone weakens tale of unwavering love.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Celebrating birthdays makes people feel special, but throwing parties behind your parent's back is a bad idea. Even more, people who love you will forgive you even if you make them angry.

Positive role models

Kind Aunt Adeline adopts Bumble-ardy and celebrates his birthday for the first time. However, behind her back, he holds his own party, which gets out of hand. She is angry, but loves him anyway.

Violence & scariness

Talk of pig parents being eaten, a threat to slice the raucous pigs into ham, a couple of angry, growling cartoony pig faces may be too intense for the youngest readers. The next-to-final scene where the angry aunt threatens the cowering, crying Bumble-Ardy seems harsh and mean.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the friendly pig popping out from the cover, and the name Maurice Sendak, will make almost any reader pick up this book. However, be warned, the story inside is not exactly the sweet, innocent one promised by that happy, exuberant pig. Rather, as is typical of most Sendak creations, it is an offbeat tale that vibrates with a tone that is slightly dark, and a bit confusing. Characters are threatened, and rowdy partygoers drink homebrewed brine and break up the house.  Still, when read aloud, dramatically, and at a pace slow enough to let the rhythm of the words sink in, and the listener fully appreciate the detailed, expressive illustratons, it is a book worth having.

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What's the story?

Bumble-ardy is a sad, angry little pig who has never had a birthday party, that is until his parents are eaten and he is adopted by a loving aunt. A rhyming prologue explains how all that came to be, and shows a depressed, hopeless Bumble-ardy hiding under a blanket, saying, \"Oh Yeah.\" Luckily for him Aunt Adeline surprises him on his ninth birthday with presents and a cake. But then things take a bad turn. The sneaky Bumble-ardy throws himself another party while his aunt is at work, serves cake and brine to a raucous group of costumed swine who break up the place and prove not to be his friends at all. When Aunty comes home unexpectedly, the swine are tossed out amid threats of butchering, and Bumble-ardy learns a lesson about parties, friends, and his aunty's love.

Is it any good?


Though the cover may suggest a more playful, innocent tale than the one found inside, this is another engaging Sendak book, with fascinating illustrations and original twists. Based on a 1970s "Sesame Street" cartoon segment, this story has undergone a few changes that make it darker and meaner than the original. Instead of being a happy little boy living with his mother, this Bumble-ardy is a hopeless little pig who has never celebrated his birthday and is adopted by a loving aunt, also a pig.  The party-gone-haywire segment is about the same, except for the costuming that makes it all a bit more bizarre. Three double-page spreads make the party look more like a drunken orgy than a 9-year-old's birthday celebration. Then the ending, before the reconciliation, depicts an angry scene that shows a mean and scary aunt and a cowering, tearful Bumble-ardy. She yells, "Never again!" and he pleads, begs, and promises. That in particular makes this book questionable for young readers, and may make you wonder about the age of the audience Sendak is trying to reach. Still, the amazing illustrations make it a book worth reading, especially aloud and with drama.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the different expressions on the faces of the pig characters, especially Bumble-ardy and Aunt Adeline. Sometimes they look sad, sometimes happy, sometimes angry. What else do they feel? How does Sendak change their faces to show their different emotions?

  • Look at the scene when Aunt Adeline is angry with Bumble-ardy.  What do you think Aunt Adeline is thinking? How do you think Bumble-ardy is feeling? What do you think about the way she handled the situation? What about Bumble-ardy's reaction?

  • Why do you think Sendak chose to have the pigs dress up like people for the costume party? What did you think might happen when Bumble-ardy had a party without telling his aunt? Why do you think he thought he had to be so sneaky?

Book details

Author:Maurice Sendak
Illustrator:Maurice Sendak
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:September 1, 2011
Number of pages:40

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Parent Written bybaltimore joe silk October 4, 2011

The Dark Side of Sendak

In previous Sendak books children rebel and learn to cope. It was their growing individualism, learning to be grown ups themselves, and often through 'not nice' events (getting eaten by a lion, being king of the monsters), that parents didn't approve. Parents wanted quiet obedient kids. Sendak showed children being kids, doing things they "shouldn't do" (but learning and growing from the experience). This book approaches the growing, rebellious child from the opposite direction. In this book a child makes a mistake, is punished and frightened to death by his caretaker, and only after he's cowed and submissive again (to the point of wanting never to grow older), is love shown. Sendak's stories used to celebrate and empower the child. This book is all about beating them back down. In a weird way this is an excellent teaching book about child abuse.
What other families should know
Too much violence