cover image Mommy?


Arthur Yorinks, Maurice Sendak, , illus. by Maurice Sendak, paper engineering by Matthew Reinhart. . Scholastic/Michael di Capua, $24.95 (12pp) ISBN 978-0-439-88050-3

Children who get the better of monsters are a Sendak specialty, from Where the Wild Things Are to Brundibar . In this light bite of spine-tingling fare created by Sendak, Yorinks (Hey, Al ) and Reinhart (Encyclopedia Prehistorica )—sort of a dark twist on Are You My Mother? —a mischievous boy addresses the title question to some unmaternal characters. Sendak's quintessential black-haired boy (with a strong resemblance to Mickey), wearing blue PJs and a red cap, wanders into a haunted house and naively calls, "Mommy?" Stylized, softened characters from Nosferatu and Lon Chaney creature features unfold in 3-D to menace the child, but the boy might as well be saying, "Trick or treat?", because he pulls pranks on everyone. A tall Frankenstein's monster gets ready to stomp on him; in a gatefold at the right-hand side of the spread, the disarming toddler jerks the bolts from the startled monster's neck. On a brick roof, the boy surprises a werewolf and a green goblin; the gatefold reveals the boy yanking down the Wolf Man's jeans to reveal silly boxer shorts, while the goblin giggles. In Reinhart's neatest engineering feat—a spinning dowel-and-string contraption—the not-so-harmless boy spins the white wrappings off an Egyptian "mummy." The title is the book's only word until the conclusion, when the Bride of Frankenstein at last replies to the child's question. Although the illustrious creators' do not appear until the back cover, readers cannot miss Sendak's signature graphic style. These gags are not too serious, but the suspenseful setups pointedly suggest humor's power over fear. All ages. (Sept.)