Monday, February 25, 2013

Pierre: a cautionary tale

In the 1960s Maurice Sendak came out with a series of books for children which we have at home, in tiny hardback editions no larger than a school pupil's hand, as the Nutshell Library. A year later, Harper and Row published Where the Wild Things Are, whereupon metaphorically speaking the American illustrator and author's ship set sail.


One of these Nutshell Library bookins is Pierre: A Cautionary Tale. It describes the travails of a naughty boy who is fond of telling his caring parents 'I don't care.' His apathy is greatly tested, however, when a lion visits in the absence of his parents and (after a polite string of warnings) swallows him entire.

Thanks to the author's humanity Pierre is none the worse for being swallowed; and the lion is not a particularly vicious lion. Pierre's parents are, however, perturbed:

Arriving home
at six o'clock,
his parents had
a dreadful shock!
They found the lion
sick in bed

and fear that he is suffering from indigestion caused by their offspring. After a little battery,

His mother asked,
"Where is Pierre?"
The lion answered,
"I don't care!"

His father deduces, "Pierre's in there!"

Then they must figure out how to get him out again, which (*spoiler alert*) they manage to do. Out pops a  renewed Pierre who declares that he does care, and the humans once again live in harmonious relations with the noble beast.
[To see the hidden text above, use your cursor and drag past it.]


The lion took them
home to rest
and stayed on
as a weekend guest.


Illustration: Front cover of Pierre, from the Harper Collins website (edition: HarperTrophy, 1991)

No comments: