Maurice Sendak returns to being author-illustrator after 30 years

Where the Wild Things Are creator to publish Bumble-Ardy, the tale of a young pig's birthday party, in September

Let the wild rumpus start! It's been 30 years since his last one, but the 82-year-old Maurice Sendak has finally written and illustrated a new picture book.

Sendak has written or illustrated a host of titles over his 60-year career, but the last book the Where the Wild Things Are author both wrote and drew was Outside Over There, the surreal story of a little girl whose baby sister is kidnapped by goblins, in 1981. Now Bumble-Ardy, the tale of a pig who, having reached the age of nine without ever having had a birthday party, decides to throw his own, is set for publication this September.

Fans of Sendak's best-known picture book, Where the Wild Things Are, in which Max travels in his wolf suit to the land of the wild things and becomes their king, are unlikely to be disappointed: the book sounds every bit as deliciously dark as its predecessors. Publisher HarperCollins promises Bumble's party will be "a wild masquerade that quickly gets out of hand", with the author once again exploring "the exuberance of young children and the unshakeable love between parent (in this case, an aunt) and child". Sendak himself said in a recent interview that the pig "was funny ... robust ... sly ... a sneak. He was all the things I like".

The story of Bumble-Ardy made its first showing as an animated segment for Sesame Street in the early 1970s, when Bumble was a boy rather than a pig. Sendak, who has sold almost 30m copies of his children's books in the US alone, said he changed the character into a pig because "boys tend, generally speaking, to be pigs", and also changed the partygoers' drink of choice to brine rather than wine ("And just in time he asked some grubby swine to come for birthday cake and brine at ten past nine"). "I didn't think I could get away with wine in this day and age," he told the Wall Street Journal.

Bumble-Ardy will be published in the US by HarperCollins on 6 September, with a first print run of 500,000. Details of UK publication have yet to be finalised. Susan Katz, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books, said she was "thrilled" to be publishing the picture book. "Generations have grown up with his books, and this new picture book is a true testament to Maurice's matchless ability to delight, entertain, and surprise us with every one," she said.


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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