In 2018 we’ll see a brand new book by beloved children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, most well known for his classic book Where the Wild Things Are. Though he passed away five years ago, an accidental discovery by Lynn Caponera–president of the Maurice Sendak Foundation–means that another generation of children will soon discover the wondrous world of Sendak’s stories.
While going through the authors files, Caponera happened across Presto and Zesto in Limboland, an entire manuscript complete with illustrations by Sendak and his regular collaborator Arthur Yorinks. It began as illustrations which Sendak created to accompany a 1990 London Symphony Orchestra performance of Leoš Janáček’s Rikadla, a piece that set a series of Czech nursery rhymes to music. Caponera reached out to Sendak’s old publisher and editor, Michael di Capua, who “read it in disbelief” and said to Publishers Weekly: “What a miracle to find this buried treasure in the archives. To think something as good as this has been lying around there gathering dust.”
This will be the third published collaboration between Sendak and Yorinks, who previously collaborated on Mommy? and The Miami Giant. Yorinks had been inspired by the illustrations from Rikadla and suggested to Sendak that they make book a from them. Originally the pair–alongside Di Capua–had thought of getting someone to translate the original Czech nursery rhymes but Yorinks said, “it just seemed hopeless, like trying to translate Finnegan’s Wake.” Sendak was incredibly busy and the drawings went forgotten until seven years later when they were used for a charity violin concert. Before they were put away again the idea of a book was raised, but what would the story be?
The pair spent “a hysterical afternoon of cracking each other up” that soon saw a narrative developing, a story which Yorinks calls a “homage” to the pair’s own friendship, which is why they named the characters after themselves, Presto and Zesto. The book only took a few months to complete, but Sendak soon became obsessed with his other projects and the material was left unpublished for 20 years.
With its recent rediscovery, we’ll finally get the chance to read a new book by one of the most influential children’s authors of the 20th century, and his collaborator is just as excited as we are. When asked if the publication should move forward, Yorinks stated, “Holy mackerel. Are you kidding me?” and quickly got to work on the minor revisions that the book needed. Presto and Zesto in Limboland will be published in fall 2018 by Michael di Capua Books/Harpers Collins.
Are you excited to read an entirely new vision by Maurice Sendak? Or do you think that publishing a deceased author’s manuscript is tantamount to betrayal? Jump in the comments and let the wild rumpus start!
Images: The Maurice Sendak Foundation