Genre: Homelessness / Friendship / Surrealism / Nursery Rhyme
Year Published: 1993
Year Read: 2008
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
“We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy” (whew, long title name!) is a Mother Goose nursery rhyme along with illustrations by Maurice Sendak. This book tells the tale of two guys trying to save a kid and a lot of kittens from a band of shrewd rats. This book may not be a classic like “Where the Wild Things Are” and “In the Night Kitchen,” but it is still full of good humor and excitement!
The nursery rhyme is surreal yet creative to read because the characters themselves are not what you would expect from a normal nursery rhyme. The characters seem to be tough and even cruel to a certain extent but they are also brave and even friendly especially when Jack and Guy seem to hate the kid at the beginning of the book but they risk their lives to save the kid at the end. The moon is the most surreal character of all as it tortures anyone who harms the kittens and the kid such as when the rat bites the kid and the moon ended up carrying Jack and Guy towards the rye field and when Jack tried to hit the kid, the moon transformed into an intimidating looking cat. Maurice Sendak’s illustrations are truly surrealistic yet beautiful as he makes the main characters dress up in old rags and running around the streets with no shoes to wear. The moon’s image is surreal as it has a grumpy looking face throughout the whole book and looks menacing when it transforms into a cat that is white all over and has intense looking eyes.
“We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy” may not have the comforting tone as “Where the Wild Things Are” or light humor like “In the Night Kitchen,” but it is certainly a truly unique and creative little book as it is in a nursery rhyme format. Many children ages five and up would greatly enjoy this book as soon as they get pass the violent images and understand the confusing plot.
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