By Maurice Sendak
Michael di Capua/Harper Collins. $17.95. Ages 4-7
Whether for person or pig, Bumble-Ardy is an admittedly odd name . . . and thus befits the curious yoking of fantasy and reality in this picture book, Maurice Sendak’s first solo performance in 30 years. Bumble is — in point of fact — a pig, albeit one with a flair for fashion. He is also an orphan, his parents having been eaten, an event alluded to in the prologue but not, fortunately, included in the illustrations. So it befalls our porcine hero that when he is 9, he goes to live with his Aunt Adeline, a quasi-Victorian porker of ample proportions who hosts his first-ever birthday party complete with costumes, cake and some very grotesque guests. What ensues is a cross between a wild rumpus and a medieval morality pageant spread across three virtually wordless double-page spreads in a style that cannot help but evoke those gargantuan creatures tamed by the wolf-suited Max so long ago. Aunt Adeline is having none of it and — spatula in hand — threatens the assemblage with her own brand of mayhem. “I’ll give you pigs till number 9 / To scat, get lost, vamoose, just scram! / Or else I’ll slice you into ham.” How young readers will react to a hero who — unlike Max — fails to extricate himself from his emotions and winds up cowed and crying (although subsequently forgiven) remains to be seen.