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Swine Lake

Swine Lake

by James Marshall, Maurice Sendak (Illustrator), Maurice Sendak

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When a lean and mangy wolf stumbles into the Boarshoi Ballet, he finds tasty pigs a-plenty, twirling and whirling in a performance of Swine Lake. Faced with all those luscious porkers, whats a hungry wolf to do? Well, something totally surprising, as it turns out.

Pure fun from Marshall and Sendak--an incomparable duo!


When a lean and mangy wolf stumbles into the Boarshoi Ballet, he finds tasty pigs a-plenty, twirling and whirling in a performance of Swine Lake. Faced with all those luscious porkers, whats a hungry wolf to do? Well, something totally surprising, as it turns out.

Pure fun from Marshall and Sendak--an incomparable duo!

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Hungry for a funny, fabulous story? Join a lean and mangy wolf as he pigs out on an extraordinary performance — in an extraordinary book! With Swine Lake , Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Maurice Sendak brings to life a delightful story that was begun by James Marshall before his death. It's a lively, tongue-in-cheek tale about a wolf who, to satisfy his appetite, attends a ballet performed by an all-pig troupe...and is satiated instead by the dancers' grace and talent.

This story begins with a wolf wandering through an unfamiliar part of town in search of a tasty afternoon snack. When he stumbles upon a theater packed with pigs, the hungry wolf can't believe his good fortune: The Boarshoi Ballet is performing Swine Lake. The wolf secures a ticket and finds his seat, happily realizing that "It's only a short leap onto the stage." But as he eyes his prey — and the pigs begin dancing — he becomes entranced by the story that's being told. Mesmerized by swines twirling and whirling and leaping across the stage, the scheming, mangy wolf is transformed into a ballet aficionado. And in the end, he too takes the stage — uninvited — in a dazzling impromptu performance.

A fun, rollicking tale, Swine Lake is filled with clever puns, hilarious descriptions, and, of course, Maurice Sendak's magical illustrations. With his whimsical humor and remarkable vision, Sendak brings the Boarshoi Ballet delightfully to life. From the characters' costumes and surroundings to all their expressions and actions, imaginative details can be found everywhere.Forexample, the building where the pigs are performing is named the "New Hamsterdam Theater," and a photo of one of the dancers is labeled "Monsieur Franche de Lard." There's no end to the delights Swine Lake brings...and children of all ages will dance with joy as they read it!

Reading level: All ages

Children's Literature - Dianne Ochiltree
The story begins with promise-when a hungry wolf wanders through an unfamiliar part of town, he stumbles on a tasty surprise. A pack of pirouetting pigs-the Boarshoi Ballet, no less-are performing a matinee aptly called "Swine Lake". And as luck would have it, the wolf receives a windfall just before curtain call: a free ticket. Although the wolf came in for a porcine feast, he soon finds himself feasting on the grace and talent of the dancing pigs. Although Sendak's illustrations are masterful-full of stage humor, in-jokes and silly puns-they are sometimes disconnected from the text, and or fail to fill in story gaps. The text has many clever moments. But the story suffers from uneven pacing and a disconnection from the illustrations. Overall, the book promises more than it delivers.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
e first act, he's captured by the drama, and later, staggers "out of the theater in a trance," food forgotten and satiated with art. Bitten by the ballet bug, the wolf becomes a surprise dancer who, as a review states, while he "was a bit on the clumsy side, he lent a note of authenticity." Swine Lake's main character, the wolf, whom Sendak sees as "a misunderstood, misanthropic, art loving, carnivorous hybrid of a creature," is both hero and villain, and has enormous depth. Underneath the book's play lurk important statements about art, entirely appropriate for two men who leave such an aesthetic legacy to children.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5-It's hog heaven! Sendak, with his signature style, and Marshall, with his delicious wit, are the perfect pair to ham up a spoof on ballet. The scrumptious smell of pigs draws a lean and mangy wolf to the New Hamsterdam Theater where a matinee of "Swine Lake" is being performed by the Boarshoi Ballet. With opportune timing, a fat old sow offers the penniless wolf a ticket for a box seat that ideally positions him for a leap onto the stage. As the plump and juicy dancing pigs interpret the story, the wolf gets so caught up in the excitement and drama that he forgets to make his move. He returns that night, after breaking his piggy bank to buy a ticket, and is so carried away by the music that he leaps to the stage and takes over the role of the monster. The next day a newspaper review cites the special guest appearance as the highlight of the evening: "It was almost as if a real wolf had appeared on the stage." Among the visual puns of ballet and literary references, discerning eyes will notice some discordant notes: a mismatch of blockish typeface for the swirl and flourish of the illustrations, and inconsistency in the time frame. Still, the composition of the pictures seats readers front stage to relish the hijinks of this wickedly funny pig tale. The end result is swinely divine.-Julie Cummins, New York Public Library Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Peter Marks
...[A] rewarding collaboration that serves as a wonderful introduction for young children to the theatergoing habit....Swine Lake is one of those lovely literary surprises that make younger ones giggle and older types grin.
The New York Times Book Review
Horn Book Magazine
A philistine wolf's appetite for pigs is transformed into an appetite for art in this posthumously published burlesque. A lean and mangy wolf-down on his luck, derided as a "poor old dog" by a couple of smart-alecky squirrels-infiltrates a performance of Swine Lake with the intention of gobbling up one of the "leaping, swirling, bowing, juicy" pig dancers. Before he can choose the very juiciest, however, he becomes involved in the tale the ballet is telling, and when he finally makes his move, leaping onto the stage, it's to dance, not to dine. The story is perfectly coherent, but wordy, with only a few of the distinctive touches one would expect from a James Marshall text. (Here's one: while the greedy wolf is settling into his seat, taking stock of his situation, he re-minds himself, "I must remember not to gobble my food.") As there is no note, one can only speculate on the origin of the manuscript and its state of completion. Sendak's illustrations reflect, as ever of late, his immer-sion in stage set design. Here they are cluttered and oddly lacking in depth, making it difficult at times to decipher the content of the picture. Stick with the recently published Owl and the Pussycat (rev. 3/99) as a last remembrance of James Marshall's picture-book genius.
Kirkus Reviews
With a connection between plot and pictures that's often fitful, this patchy star vehicle is more likely to confuse than amuse. Wandering into an unfamiliar neighborhood, a wolf smells pig and, intoxicated, gains entry to a theater in which the Boarshoi Ballet is performing Swine Lake. His lust for pork abruptly vanishes and a new balletomane is born; he is so enthralled by the performance that he returns the next night, where he, to subsequent critical acclaim, impulsively leaps on stage. Although the text expertly evokes the grand illogic of most ballet plots, the prose is wordy and the pacing uneven. Sendak's illustrations tell a somewhat different tale than Marshall's, portraying a shabby wolf deliberately seeking out the company; the artist also seems more intent on packing each scene with stage business, dance references, in-jokes, and tributes than filling in gaps, such as the mysterious disappearance of the first night's "monster" (a lion). The author's and illustrator's names guarantee good sales, but children are unlikely to care for this, and as a memento mori, it falters next to Marshall's The Owl and the Pussycat. (Picture Book. 8-11)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Michael di Capua Bks.
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.75(w) x 8.93(h) x 0.37(d)
AD710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

James Marshall, one of our most beloved creators of children's books, died on October 13, 1992, three days after his fiftieth birthday. As Anita Silvey says in Children's Books and Their Creators: "The Marshall canon of characters is legendary: Viola Swamp, George, Martha, the Stupids, Emily Pig, Fox, the Cut-Ups...In the latter part of the twentieth century, there have been many fine practitioners of the art of the picture book, but Marshall was one of the finest. His books are classics that will endure."

In addition to Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak's books include Kenny's Window, Very Far Away, The Sign on Rosie's Door, Nutshell Library (consisting of Chicken Soup with Rice, Alligators All Around, One Was Johnny, and Pierre), Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life, In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There, We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy, and Bumble-Ardy.

He received the 1964 Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are; the 1970 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration; the 1983 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, given by the American Library Association in recognition of his entire body of work; and a 1996 National Medal of Arts in recognition of his contribution to the arts in America. In 2003, he received the first Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, an international prize for children's literature established by the Swedish government.

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