Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Swine Lake

Swine Lake

1999 Picture Books
Ages: All Ages
Author: James Marshall
Illustrator: Maurice Sendak
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 0-06-205171-7
Hardcover Price: $15.96
The late James Marshall, a virtuoso illustrator, was a gifted writer as well. After his death in 1992, the manuscript for Swine Lake was found, and now his longtime friend, Maurice Sendak, has staged, with dance-like grace and wry humor, an incomparable picture-book production of this posthumous work. The hero/villain of this suspense-filled tale is a "lean and mangy" old wolf in dire need of a square meal. When he catches the delectable whiff of a pig, the famished wolf follows his nose to the New Hamsterdam Theater, where The Boarshoi Ballet is about to perform Swine Lake. The narrative that follows will reward a sophisticated older child with a number of comedic happenings. From his box seat ("only a short leap to the stage"), the salivating old wolf plots which plump and juicy pig he will gobble up first. Alas, our lupine senior-citizen is so beguiled by the ballet's plot ("This is thrilling!" says he) that he misses his golden opportunity to pig out. Returning to a second performance, the wolf leaps to the stage where he is mistaken for a new member of the ballet's cast. Carried away by his unexpected starring role, the would-be villain is hailed as "the highlight of the evening". Again, no pig dinner, but Marshall's language is winningly droll, Sendak's illustrations masterful, and a good time, clearly, is had by all.
Selma G. Lanes   ©1999 Parents' Choice

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