Bumble-ardy, the latest from author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, is dark and deeply imaginative, much like his classic works Where the Wild Things Are and In The Night Kitchen.
Bumble-ardy is an orphaned pig, who has reached the age of 9 without ever having a birthday party. He tells his Aunt Adeline that he would like to have a party for his ninth birthday, so Aunt Adeline plans a quiet birthday dinner for two. But Bumble-ardy instead decides to throw a large costume party for himself after his aunt leaves for work — and mayhem ensues.
When his aunt returns she says, “Okay smarty, you’ve had your party but never again.” Bumble-ardy replies, “I promise, I swear, I won’t ever turn 10.”
Sendak tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross that those two lines — his favorite in the book — sum up his life and his work.
“Those two lines are essential. ‘I’ll never be 10’ touches me deeply but I won’t pretend that I know exactly what it means,” says Sendak. “When I thought of it, I was so happy I thought of it. It came to me, which is what the creative act is all about. Things come to you without you necessarily knowing what they mean. … It comes at a time when I am getting ripe, getting old — and I want to do work that resonates.”
Sendak says that he worked on Bumble-ardy while taking care of his longtime partner, Eugene Glynn, who died of lung cancer in 2007.
“When I did Bumble-ardy, I was so intensely aware of death,” he says. “Eugene, my friend and partner, was dying here in the house when I did Bumble-ardy. I did Bumble-ardy to save myself. I did not want to die with him. I wanted to live as any human being does. But there’s no question that the book was affected by what was going on here in the house. … Bumble-ardy was a combination of the deepest pain and the wondrous feeling of coming into my own. And it took a long time. It took a very long time.”