cover image The Miami Giant

The Miami Giant

Arthur Yorinks. Hyperion Books for Children, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-205068-7

Following his profoundly political We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy, Sendak applies his prodigious talents to this self-indulgent tale by Yorinks (Hey, Al), Sendak's partner in The Night Kitchen, a foundation for children's theater. An ungainly combination of Gulliver's Travels, the Christopher Columbus story and satire about Jewish retirees in Miami Beach, the narrative sends one Giuseppe Giaweeni from 15th- or 16th-century Italy across the sea in search of China; he lands in Miami. ``My-mom-mee?'' reads a voice bubble over one crewman's head. ``Me-hoo-mee?'' asks the dog, ``May-hem-mee?'' questions another traveler, and, in one of many bits of shtick, Giaweeni himself says, ``So I swerved a little.'' There they find ``a lost tribe of dancing giants'' known as the Mishbookers (how many readers will know that this name is related to the Yiddish word for ``family''?). Giaweeni brings one Joe Mishbooker back to Europe to perform onstage (``Where's the bathroom?'' asks the giant, squeezed into a palazzo, his head scraping the ceiling). But the audience flees the theater on Joe's opening night-are Yorinks and Sendak mocking the puniness of readers who fail to appreciate artists of great stature? Unfortunately, their collaboration is likely to merit much the same reception as Giaweeni and Joe's. Not even Sendak's superbly colored and operatically conceived illustrations can turn this in-joke into a story for public consumption. Ages 3-up. (Oct.)