Pierre: A Cautionary Tale

Author/Illustrator: Maurice Sendak

Pierre was a little boy who couldn’t be bothered to care about anything. His apathy was such a problem that his parents really didn’t know what to do with him . . . to the extent that they eventually left him to his own devices. One day when Pierre is by himself, still not caring, something awful happens. In fact, that something is so awful that Pierre might never not care again–assuming he survives the experience.

Pierre: A Cautionary Tale is and is not what I would expect from Sendak’s writing. Really, it’s a fable of sorts–a 5-chapter easy-reader tale with a moral. I think it definitely shows its age (copyright 1962), but it’s almost as though it’s intentionally old-fashioned. The art is rough, stylized pen drawings with partial colorization–again, old-fashioned looking, but full of character as well. And the story fits along those same lines: wry, old-fashioned, simple, but rather quirky. I think the use of some verse and some straight prose, sort of mixed together, gives the tale an interesting flow. I think Pierre would be an interesting story for children who are just learning to read to try for themselves, and also a funny reminder for us all to care.

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