Got an audiobook of a collection of his stories read by Tammy Grimes, an American stage actress and have been listening to it (repeatedly) in the car. I love the way Grimes reads the stories - she's made Sendak even better and he was already the best!
And then my friend, Hsian, bought me a collection of animated film adaptations of Sendak's books and it's on right now as I type this.
Well, his illustrations are used as the basis for the animation and so that's OK, and of course the text remains unchanged, but this, I feel, presents a problem because when set to music it makes for rather monotonous listening.
Pierre, A Cautionary Taley Tale suffers the most - in my opinion. In the first place, one has to take great care when reading this story because the frequent repetition of the key phrase "I don't care" can be very wearying if the reader doesn't stress it differently. Well, in the film, the whole Pierre story is turned into a song and the "I don't care" bit is sung exactly the same throughout. Plus, every other line of the tale/song is set to a melody that hardly varies. It's very monotonous.
The music is composed by Carole King no less and whatever that's sung is sung by her, but although I like Carole King normally, I'm not at all impressed with what she's done with Pierre. Alligators All Around is cute though and I don't really mind One Was Johnny either. But Pierre! Even Elesh isn't too impressed.
Where the Wild Things Are is strange, but it grows on you, as does In the Night Kitchen. They're both fairly weird little tales anyway - surreal and other-worldly, with a hint of violence buried deep in the narratives, but with a core of warmth and cosiness and safety. Just the sort of combination of qualities that children appreciate.
I think both the audiobook and the video/VCD/DVD would make great gifts. The nightmare of King's Pierre is a minor hiccup that can be fast forwarded over if you find it as annoying as I do, but who knows, you may well love it.
But the audiobook - yes, yes, it's wonderful in every way. Get that and then make copies, just in case anything happens to the original!
P.S. Carole King's Really Rosie album features songs based on Sendak's stories and includes Pierre. Really Rosie is, of course, based on The Sign on Rosie's Door.
A: Alligators all Around; B: Bursting Balloons; C: Catching Colds; D: Doing Dishes; E: Entertaining Elephants; F: Forever Fooling; G: Getting Giggles; H: Having Headaches; I: Imitating Indians; J: Juggling Jellybeans; K: Keeping Kangaroos; L: Looking like Lions; M: Making Macaroni; N: Never Napping; O:Ordering Oatmeal; P: Pushing People; Q: Quite Quarrelsome; R: Riding Reindeer; S: Shockingly Spoilt; T: Throwing Tantrums; U: Usually Upsidedown; V: Very Vain; W: Wearing Wigs; X: Xing Xses; Y: Yackity Yakking; Z: Zippity Zound, Alligators all Around!