Books Parenting

There Once Was a Boy Named Pierre

My kids and I have enjoyed a series of Scholastic DVDs where classic children’s books are read aloud with bare-bones animations. They blur the line between a book and a movie. And they work for all ages (important when you have a 3-year-old and 11-year-old watching the same screen). I enjoyed our latest find so much I’m sharing it here.

It’s a DVD of Six Maurice Sendak books (from the Ann Arbor library). Including Where the Wild Things Are, sure, but the bigger hits with us were In The Night Kitchen and Pierre. Pierre is a gem in particular, the rare case when the movie version improves on the (already very good) book. It’s set to music and sung by Carole King, complemented with snappy drumming. Enjoy:

The lion looked Pierre right in the eye and asked him if he’d like to die

It’s irresistible, with great melody and a delivery that navigates often-irregular meter and rhyme. I’d somehow been unfamiliar with Carole King (“Regarded as one of the most significant and influential musicians of all time“, doh) and have since come to appreciate her skill as a performer and composer.

This adaptation of Pierre is from a 1975 musical, Really Rosie, that Sendak and King created together, based on his books. I’d love to see it performed.

The story’s moral is unobjectionable. It’s a little preachy, but I’m on board with the message as I see it: life is brief and precious, so engage with it earnestly. (In my case, read books like Sendak’s while my kids are young). The book/song is funny, quirky, and above all a heck of tune. I keep playing it to get it out of my head, but it hasn’t worked yet. Pierre’s in there!

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