The Read Balloon: Maurice Sendak’s Nutshell Library

maurice sendak nutshell library

One of Harper’s Christmas presents, all of which came, she informed us, from Santa (!?), was the very tiny and very cute Nutshell Library.  The little box contains four Maurice Sendak books, all entinyed for a tiny person’s pleasure: One Was Johnny, Alligators All Around, Pierre, and Chicken Soup With Rice.  Harper is especially interested in tiny things these days, and has been requesting the “tiny books” nonstop since about 6 a.m. on Christmas morning.  And I have to say I agree with her on this one: these tiny books are wonderful.

As soon as I opened up Chicken Soup With Rice, I remembered a tune that went with the words, a tune so darn catchy I find it near impossible to read the book without singing it.  Where did this tune come from?  The internet tells me that these and other Sendak books have been put to music in Really Rosie, a cartoon musical I’m not sure I ever saw.  Maybe we sang it in a music class in school?  I don’t know, because the other songs don’t sound familiar, but let me tell you, I could sing this Chicken Soup song all day.  Oh wait, now I do.

Anyway, the other books are pretty great too: a counting book starring a small misanthrope named Johnny, a counting book about alligators, and, well, our household is divided on Pierre.  Adam was loathe to read to our little parrot a book that mostly consists of a bratty little boy saying “I don’t care,” and I have to agree that it seems like asking for trouble, or at least a lot of “I don’t care”s.  Maybe once she’s out of this hyper-repeaty stage?

So, another flood of unexpected childhood nostalgia (“In February it will be-ee/My snowman’s anniversary-eee”), expressive scratchy illustrations that make me want to draw droll little things with a very fine pen, and some modicum of educational value?  And all this packaged in an excruciatingly cute box Harper loves?  Nutshell Library, we salute you.

5 responses to “The Read Balloon: Maurice Sendak’s Nutshell Library

  1. Pingback: Snow Days | household words

  2. Oh, Amy. These were some of our favorites, too. So many nights and days with chicken soup with rice and the alphabet book. Sigh.

  3. This is the gift that I always hope someone gets me! I had a nice copy as a kid and I’d imagine it’s still entombed in my parents’ house somewhere. Got to check on that…

    And I think you are wise to withhold Pierre right now. That kid’s a little jerk!

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