The Reading List: Higglety Pigglety Pop!

Higglety Pigglety Pop! by Maurice Sendak

Rating: Must Read
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This book belongs on every shelf, possibly next to The Little Prince or Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. This beautifully illustrated fable (Sendak wrote this to deal with the death of his beloved Sealyham Terrier, Jennie) stars the always hungry, always selfish and always charming little dog Jennie. Though Jennie has everything, she decides there must be more to life and sets off to find it.

Along the way, there are feline milkmen, job applications to theatre companies, babies who won’t eat, lions and the bit of Mother Goose rhyme from which the book takes its title. Somehow, the ending manages to be both uplifting and very sad at the same time, and when you’re done, the little voice in your head will plead “read it again!”.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I can’t read Jennie’s letter home at the end without tearing up. If you’ve ever lost a dog, I think you’ll have the same reaction.

Sendak’s art is brilliant, carefully rendered black and white illustrations with charming characters and whimsical details that add to the text of the story. Sendak’s storytelling as at its peak here. It’s much wordier than Wild Things, and also aimed at an older audience. If your kids are too young for this, buy it anyway. That way, it’s there when they’re ready.

1 thought on “The Reading List: Higglety Pigglety Pop!”

  1. Yup, I agree that this is a Maurice Sendak book for the ages — one of the true wonders of the children’s literature world.
    It’s like we are Jenny, observing this stage world unfold around us and we’re caught up in .
    Sendak’s absorption with all things theater becomes so apparent here.
    His play with word rhythms, rhymes and pacing reminds us of his great
    “Nutshell Library” books (where he did his best writing.)
    His line drawings (and cover art) here are among the most heartfelt and sensitive of any children’s book illustration you will ever see by any artist, anywhere, any time.

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