Once Jennie had everything. She slept on a round pillow upstairs and a square pillow downstairs. She had her own comb and brush, two different bottles of pills, eyedrops, eardrops, a thermometer, and for cold weather a red wool sweater. There were two windows for her to look out of and two bowls to eat from. She even had a master who loved her.
- Maurice Sendak, Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or, There Must Be More to Life
So begins a modest little picture storybook for children by beloved Maurice Sendak, first published by Harper & Row in 1967.
My son and I discovered many wonderful children’s books together when he was young, and of course I also introduced him to those I had loved in my own childhood, but somehow we missed Maurice Sendak. It was not until the 21st century that I became familiar his work, and even then the book that everyone talked about was In the Night Kitchen. I never heard or read anything about Higglety Pigglety Pop! until I ran across it later, quite by chance.
The illustrations (by the author himself) are irresistible. But it always bothered me that the little dog who had “everything,” including “a master who loved her,” was so discontented that she packed up “everything” and left home. And she doesn’t go home in the end, either. I was sad for the master left behind. Long after my initial impression, I learned the story behind the story when an interview Terri Gross had done with the late author years earlier aired again on the anniversary of his death.
When Sendak’s beloved dog Jennie died, he rewrote her ending for a children’s book, having Jennie run off to join a theater company and become a star. Higglety Pigglety Pop! is dedicated “For Jennie,” and the story ends with a note Jennie sends to her old master that begins, “As you probably noticed, I went away forever,” and ends, “But if you ever come this way, look for me.”
Some dogs go to live on farms, some run off to join the circus or a traveling theatre, and many simply go over the rainbow. One thing they never do is die. They live on forever in our hearts.
Books Read Since Last Post
7. Carter, John. Taste & Technique in Book Collecting (nonfiction)
8. Sendak, Maurice. Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or, There Must Be More to Life (fiction – juv.)‘
9. McVey, James. Loon Rangers (fiction)
10. Bragg, Rick. All Over but the Shoutin’ (nonfiction)