HIGGLETY PIGGLETY POP! OR, THERE MUST BE MORE TO LIFE
A shaggy dog named Jennie has everything in life -- two pillows, a comb, a brush, eyedrops and eardrops, a sweater for cold weather, plenty of food, and a person who loves her. Yet, Jennie yearns for something more (that greedy little terrier!). So she packs a suitcase containing everything she owns and sets out on a quest.
As is often the case when we venture outside our comfort zone, things get a bit hairy for Jennie when she embarks on her quest. She encounters a wild cast of characters-- the first of which is a pig offering, of all things, free ham sandwiches.
This particular pig is not only a sandwich purveyor; it turns out he's also a Hollywood casting agent. And he's seeking a leading lady for an upcoming production. Jennie is certain she's found her calling. There's only one hitch: Jennie has no experience. "Don't call us, we'll call you," the pig says.
And so, Jennie sets off to gain experience, but like any young ingenue, Jennie discovers it doesn't come easy. A sly cat leads her to her first of many tests she will soon face. Jennie is given the ridiculous task to make an un-hungry baby eat, and if Jennie fails she'll be fed to a hungry lion. Oh my!
When failure is about to strike, when she is unable to get the baby to eat, Jennie finds herself staring into the jaws of the lion. She could feed the baby to this fierce beast but instead she gives up everything she has -- her eyedrops, her eardrops, her thermometer, EVERYTHING to the lion -- and risks her own life to save the baby. And bam, with that Jennie has experience!
A true artist, willing to lay it on the line, Jennie parlays her experience to earn the lead in the production of Higglety Pigglety Pop! She is quite the star, too, and in true "dog" fashion, the climax of the play shows her eating a mop. She never returns home, for she has found her calling. What a courageous soul Jennie is; it is no wonder she is named for Maurice Sendak's beloved terrier who passed away shortly before the book was written. Pets make for the most wonderful muses.
The book's adult themes make it more suitable for the older, quirkier set, but there are old souls who might enjoy it, too. In the September 5, 1967 issue of Life Magazine, Robert Phelps wrote a review of Higglety Pigglety Pop! titled "Fine Book for Children by a Secret Child: The Hidden World of Maurice Sendak." From Phelps's review:
"It is a fresh, tender, very sophisticated story--being, among other things, the first 'children's book' I have ever read which deals with so adult a matter as the artist's vocation. In this respect it is as autobiographical as Proust and, like him, even suggests that if you are born wild, or oddball in some way, you can get away with it and still be loved if you have the courage to trust your imagination." I love that quote and I think this lesson from Jennie's story bears repeating:
if you are born wild, or oddball in some way you can get away with it and still be loved if you have the courage to trust your imagination.
-From the Life review of Higglety Pigglety Pop! by Robert Phelps