cover image In Grandpa's House

In Grandpa's House

Philip Sendak. HarperCollins, $13 (42pp) ISBN 978-0-06-025462-9

Maurice Sendak unerringly depicts real people and places and the magic beings in his father's fairy tale. In the drawings, one senses the artist's immutable love for his family and pride in his heritage. At age 75, Philip Sendak was mourning for his late wife Sarah. Before his death a year later, he wrote the pages that became this book, translated from ""Americanism Yiddish'' by Barofsky, whose notes give interesting background data on the text. The full flavor of the author's pithy, unstudied descriptions evokes laughter and tears and wonder. Sendak tells about growing up in a Polish-Jewish shtetl, leaving home, staying with a wise grandfather and sailing to America in 1913. Working in a factory, ``I courted Mama every Saturday and Sunday,'' successfully. The couple settled in Brooklyn, where they brought up their three children and lived out their faithful years together. At Maurice's urging, Philip tried to write a story: ``But nothing comes.'' Instead, the author added to his book this tale he had heard as a child at home. David is lost and crying for his Papa and Mama when a big bird appears. The bird flies the boy over terrain where he sees creatures big and small killing each other, symbolizing the lessons he learns when the flight ends at his grandfather's house. The kind old man explains the meaning of David's experiences with news about his Papa and Mama in the surprising denouement. Jews and gentiles, children and adults will discover meaning, as well, in the two stories that blend seamlessly into one parable. (All ages)