In looking back over Sendak's body of work, it is readily apparent that dreams play a key role in his books. Dreams are the entryway into the psyche and it is there Sendak's fascination lies. In this book, the first that he both wrote and illustrated himself, Sendak spins a story of a young boy who awakes from a dream that he is unable to forget. In it, a four-legged rooster has approached him and promised him anything he wants if he can answer seven questions. Accepting this quest, Kenny begins to try and answer these elusive questions and, in the process, learns some things about himself and growing up. He understands that his wishes must not come to him immediately but that he can wait for them to happen. By today's standards, the text seems overly long and somewhat convoluted. The pen and ink drawings seem bland and unexciting in comparison to his renowned later works, Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen. Nevertheless, when viewed as the initial book in his wide body of work, it takes on a new significance. Here we can see the genesis of Sendak' artistic style and his use of the dream metaphor to explore growth. While this book may not attract young readers who are used to shorter more brilliantly illustrated picture books, those of us who admire Sendak's work will want to add this to our collections. 2004 (orig. 1956), HarperCollins, Ages 5 to 8.
Joan Kindig, Ph.D.