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We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy: Two Nursery Rhymes with Pictures Hardcover – September 30, 1993


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2 Up-Sendak is back, bolder than ever, as he looks out to the problems of today's world. He combines two little-known and unrelated nursery rhymes, taking advantage of their absence of story to interpret them with a wealth of detail and social commentary. In so doing, his visual images invite readers to become co-conspirators in the creation of the tale. From the dust jacket's ragged and newspaper-wrapped children, depicted within a monstrous mouth that readers will discover is the moon, to the very last page, one must search for clues to bring meaning to the enigmatic text. (Most are in the form of newspaper headlines). The homeless children and kittens are watched over by the moon, which seems to insist that the youngsters take care of one another. The moon itself is transformed into a giant cat to save the kittens and a baby from the rats who steal them. Unlike Max from Where the Wild Things Are (HarperCollins, 1988), however, their return is not to safety and a warm supper, but to the uncertainties of the street. Overall, the images refer to poverty, war, crime, pollution, famine, inflation, AIDS, unemployment, and other current evils. The illustrations themselves are not frightening, but they remind readers of horrific things in the real world. The somewhat muted and subdued palette is brightened with bursts of red sky and a stark white cat, which give an explosive energy to the story. The clarity of the art and of the composition of the pages are deceptively simple. The rhythms of the street, of rap music, are recognizable in the interplay between the rhymes and characters' ballooned comments. This is a potent, evocative book, but Sendak respects children's ability to deal with powerful and potentially controversial issues and ideas. We Are All in the Dumps will lead to discussion, speculation, and a variety of interpretations, all of which are appropriate for this type of allegory. This headline says it all: "Leaner Times, Meaner Times...Children Triumph."-Kay E. Vandergrift, School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Harking back to Hector Protector (1965), Sendak again pairs two nursery rhymes; but this time, he penetrates deeply into society's ills in his elaborate visual extension of the words. ``We are all in the dumps/For diamonds are trumps/The kittens are gone to St. Paul's/The baby is bit/The moon's in a fit/And the houses are built without walls.'' Sendak sets this first rhyme in New York, where homeless children are watched over by an increasingly agitated moon and where two wicked rats build a house of cards, play for the ``poor little kid'' (an appealing waif), and haul him, as well as the kittens, off to ``St. Paul's Bakery and Orphanage''--which resembles Auschwitz (glimpsed more subtly in Dear Mili). In the second part, Jack and Guy, who have earlier ignored the waif's pleas for help, follow after: ``Come says Jack/Let's knock him on the head/No says Guy/Let's buy him some bread...'' There's much more going on in the extraordinary art, including allusions visual (Trump Tower, a Cheshire cat moon that maternally enfolds the kittens) and verbal (in dialogue balloons and newsprint that also serves as shelter). Dear Mili's exquisitely detailed paintings give way here to the freely drawn, more immediate style of I Saw Esau (1992); but the subtle orchestration of Sendak's ideas has never been more intricate, telling, or playful. Adults may question presenting serious topics to children in this imaginative form. Lucky children have seen homelessness, and worse, only on TV; the unlucky have lived it. In this beautiful, passionately concerned book, Sendak creates visual poetry, rich in symbolism, that goes to the heart of such matters better than any earnest description. Once again, he explores new ground and offers a masterpiece. (Picture book. 4+) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 2 and up
  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (September 30, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062050141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062050144
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 11.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For more than forty years, the books Maurice Sendak has written and illustrated have nurtured children and adults alike and have challenged established ideas about what children's literature is and should be. The New York Times has recognized that Sendak's work "has brought a new dimension to the American children's book and has helped to change how people visualize childhood." Parenting recently described Sendak as "indisputably, the most revolutionary force in children's books."
Winner of the 1964 Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are, in 1970 Sendak became the first American illustrator to receive the international Hans Christian Andersen Award, given in recognition of his entire body of work. In 1983, he received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association, also given for his entire body of work.
Beginning in 1952, with A Hole Is to Dig by Ruth Krauss, Sendak's illustrations have enhanced many texts by other writers, including the Little Bear books by Else Holmelund Minarik, children's books by Isaac Bashevis Singer and Randall Jarrell, and The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm. Dear Mili, Sendak's interpretation of a newly discovered tale by Wilhelm Grimm, was published to extraordinary acclaim in 1988.
In addition to Where the Wild Things Are (1963), Sendak has both written and illustrated
The Nutshell Library (1962), Higglety Pigglety Pop! (1967), In the Night Kitchen (1970), Outside Over There (1981), and, We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy (1993). He also illustrated Swine Lake (1999), authored by James Marshall, Brundibar (2003), by Tony Kushner, Bears (2005), by Ruth Krauss and, Mommy? (2006), his first pop-up book, with paper engineering by Matthew Reinhart and story by Arthur Yorinks.
Since 1980, Sendak has designed the sets and costumes for highly regarded productions of Mozart's The Magic Flute and Idomeneo, Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen, Prokofiev's
The Love for Three Oranges, Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, and Hans Krása's Brundibár.
In 1997, Sendak received the National Medal of Arts from President Clinton. In 2003 he received the first Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, an international prize for children's literature established by the Swedish government. Maurice Sendak was born in Brooklyn in 1928. He now lives in Connecticut.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
With his signature artwork - all the people look like little trolls - Sendak has quietly created his best book. This beautiful story tells of a small boy found, stolen, and ultimately rescued by two noble homelessmen. What makes it Sendak is the evil rats, the vengeful moon, and the fierce and righteous commentary embedded in the art. A must have for absolutely everyone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By SkyHeart on May 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Picture books can be told in many different ways. They can be told as a poem, with only a word or two on each page, and can even be told without words. But in Maurice Sendak's book "We Are All in The Dumps with Jack and Guy", it's told as a nursery rhyme, even when it involves a world of homeless people.

In the book, the story takes place in a city with homeless people, where we follow two homeless men named Jack and Guy. When they see two rats with kidnapped kittens and a little black boy, they play cards in order to win the kittens and the child, but when they lose the game but continue to stop the nefarious rats, they are taken by the mouth of the moon, and into the sky filled with angels and are taken to an orphanage to find them.

This book is by far the darkest book Sendak has ever written and created. Much like "Bumble-Ardy", the illustrations are a little frightening and might scared kids a bit. I know the storyline is very unusual (two homeless men trying to save a black baby from two rats) and some of the nursery rhyme might give you a few thoughts of your own. But it's not a bad book at all, and it definitely won't be seen as a classic to lots of people. I personally think the book is still a nice incredible read and will leave you in a fairly good mood. Aside from the story, the illustrations help give more to the story. I think that this book in probably more suited for readers ten or older. But all in all, it's a unique fairy tale with a look all its own.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Espinosa on June 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book has such a unique style that you have to own it just to own it. The story is told in a nursery rhyme format, but it is a very dark and demented nursery rhyme. The material is intense, but not too intense for the audience. The illustrations are incredible and breathtaking. The color is just as intense as the images. The anger and meanness of the world surrounding the homeless kids is astounding. The story presents a real problem in our society to kids in a way they can understand it. I understand there is a lot of controversy surrounding the book, mostly allegations of racism. Watch out for that.
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By Live Outside on January 11, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Why these? Why did the author choose these two nursery rhythms? I really had to analyze this book to fully understand the just of what was really happening. By just reading the nursery rhyme themselves, I was lost, but by putting the words together with the illustrations and the balloon captions I was finally able to put it all together. For a picture book, I thought this was way too much work. I saw the rhythm of the words but I just didn’t care for these nursery rhymes, they were so sad and who will really remember them? It started off with poor children living in a dump and these rats snatched their kittens and a young boy. Jack & Guy, two boys from the dump, yell at them and they end up playing bridge with the winner walking home the kittens and the boy. The kids get duped and they lose and the rats haul off the prizes. This story is quite creepy and bizarre. It’s depressing and the facial expressions on the kids are heartbreaking. The bright moon is watching silently in the sky and in the second nursery rhythm he comes into play as now the baby is “bit” and the moon gets angry and grabs Jack and Guy and he drops them close to where they have taken their prized possessions. They find the boy and Jack wants to hit him. Yes, you heard me right, he wants to hit him. The two nursery rhythms do go together and they do have a happy ending, but it’s the things that happen in the rhythms. Strange and not something, I think I would share with younger children. This would be a good book to use if you’re doing a project on nursery rhythms. The rats were rather creepy and the kittens hanging by strings, the moon weeping, the kittens crying, and the baby being tied up. Each character was different, their distinctive feature so unique- I have to give the illustrator credit, they were a story themselves.
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By kate on January 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We adore this beautiful children's story told through nursery rhymes. It's a wonderful book to read aloud and has beautiful pictures and a great message.
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