A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.