James Marshall, one of our most beloved creators of children's books, died on October 13, 1992, three days after his fiftieth birthday. As Anita Silvey says in Children's Books and Their Creators: The Marshall canon of characters is legendary: Viola Swamp, George, Martha, the Stupids, Emily Pig, Fox, the Cut-Ups...In the latter part of the twentieth century, there have been many fine practitioners of the art of the picture book, but Marshall was one of the finest. His books are classics that will endure. Maurice Sendak's children's books have sold over 30 million copies and have been translated into more than 40 languages. He received the 1964 Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are and is the creator of such classics as In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There, Higglety Pigglety Pop!, and Nutshell Library. In 1970 he received the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal for Illustration, in 1983 he received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association, and in 1996 he received a National Medal of Arts in recognition of his contribution to the arts in America. In 2003, Sendak received the first Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, an annual international prize for children's literature established by the Swedish government.
Gr 1-5-It's hog heaven! Sendak, with his signature style, and Marshall, with his delicious wit, are the perfect pair to ham up a spoof on ballet. The scrumptious smell of pigs draws a lean and mangy wolf to the New Hamsterdam Theater where a matinee of "Swine Lake" is being performed by the Boarshoi Ballet. With opportune timing, a fat old sow offers the penniless wolf a ticket for a box seat that ideally positions him for a leap onto the stage. As the plump and juicy dancing pigs interpret the story, the wolf gets so caught up in the excitement and drama that he forgets to make his move. He returns that night, after breaking his piggy bank to buy a ticket, and is so carried away by the music that he leaps to the stage and takes over the role of the monster. The next day a newspaper review cites the special guest appearance as the highlight of the evening: "It was almost as if a real wolf had appeared on the stage." Among the visual puns of ballet and literary references, discerning eyes will notice some discordant notes: a mismatch of blockish typeface for the swirl and flourish of the illustrations, and inconsistency in the time frame. Still, the composition of the pictures seats readers front stage to relish the hijinks of this wickedly funny pig tale. The end result is swinely divine.-Julie Cummins, New York Public Library Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Sendak's illustrations are filled with sly references to the arts for adults reading this very fractured, very funny tale to children.CCBC Choices 2000