The author of the famed 1963 children's book Where the Wild Things Are, which was made into a feature-length film in 2009, Maurice Sendak, 83, has long been both celebrated and feared — celebrated as one of the most talented and unique voices in children's literature, feared because his books tend to have a dark quality that adults worry will frighten young readers. Sendak's latest book, Bumble-Ardy, about a little pig's chaotic birthday party, has been raising some of the same concerns.

Parents and reviewers have said that the book's references to parental abandonment and slaughter (they're pigs, after all), its introduction of grotesque characters such as The Grim Reaper, and its depiction of a party that features thinly-veiled scenes of underaged drinking (Sendak capitulated and changed "wine" to "brine") make Bumble-Ardy a disturbing book unfit for children. "Bumble-Ardy won’t give children nightmares, but its violent undertones and pervading theme of disappointment may be more suitable for adults who are nostalgic for a defiant, wolf-costumed boy named Max," wrote reviewer Stephan Lee on, referring to the hero of Where the Wild Things Are.

Sendak, though, defends his work against critics. "Children’s books should be fair to children. Not to soften or to weaken," he told The New York Times. "Before [my books], the attitude towards children was: Keep them calm, keep them happy, keep them snug and safe. It’s not a putdown of those earlier books. But basically, they went by the rules that children should be safe and that we adults should be their guardians. I got out of that, and I was considered outlandish. So be it."

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