Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbek by Steve Senn: A Review and Appreciation

While moving from heavily illustrated books to chapter books, I had a few milestone books that I loved. To name a few: The first few books of The Little Vampire series by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg (My Friend the Vampire, The Vampire Moves In, Vampire in Love, etc…); the Bunnicula series by James Howe; the Soup series of books by Robert Newton Peck; and the one I’m going to talk about today, The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbek by Steve Senn.

The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbek (the version I had as a child was the Avon Camelot, 1985 paperback) by Steve Senn is a book I remember quite well from my early years of reading (although the name eluded me for YEARS). This book also introduced me to Science Fiction. I think I was a curious 9-year-old at the time when I picked the 1985 paperback up at a local bookstore. The sight of a boy waking up next to a dinosaur in the other twin bed in his bedroom – both with shocked looks on their faces – was enough for me to get it.

The story involves a human boy waking up one day in another dimension exactly like his own except this new-to-him universe is populated by anthropomorphic dinosaurs (human-acting dinosaurs). In this other dimension, humans are extinct and the dinosaurs do the exact same things that humans did in Walter’s home dimension. Much time is spent disguising Walter to look like a dinosaur so he doesn’t freak out the dinosaur population. Later the pseudo-science of inter-dimensional time travel is explained down to a fourth or fifth grade level. I remember being utterly fascinated and accepting it all as fact (major willing suspension of disbelief). There isn’t any “magic” involved, but it isn’t ultra-real science either. Just stuff kids can digest. This book made me interested in Fantasy and Science Fiction and shortly after it I was reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series and Piers Anthony’s Xanth series.

Although I had no idea of it at the time, Steve Senn illustrated this book too (he didn’t do the paperback’s cover though, just the inner illustrations). The very cute line drawings were one thing that I really remembered about this book.

In 2009 a local bookstore of mine sadly closed and sold off their inventory. While filling a $5 bag of books I found a green hardcover of The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbek without a dust-jacket. The cover looks like green, bumpy, leathery dinosaur skin (probably just leather-like). It also has an embossed picture on the front board of what looks like a happy dinosaur on it. I had no idea that this book had been in hardcover and my paperback was lost long ago. Of course, I purchased it the green volume. I even put a picture on Amazon of it.

Sometime in 2010, I figured out that Steve Senn is also known as Oscar Senn (I think Steve or Steven is his middle name, but I’ve read somewhere that Oscar is his middle name too). I found his website and wrote him a fan letter. We emailed back and forth and he sent me a picture of the original illustrated (by him!) dust-jacket for The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbek hardcover (since mine was missing a dust jacket). I shared this picture on Amazon too.

The dust-jacket clearly states “Written and illustrated by Steve Senn.” During these conversations, it was pointed out to me that the “happy dinosaur” embossed picture was actually put on the book upside down by the publisher. I turned my copy over, and lo and behold, a very normal looking triceratops!

Further research uncovered that in 1985, there was an animated special of this book on CBS Storybreak (hosted by Robert Keeshan AKA Captain Kangaroo). I haven’t seen this animated short (about 30 minutes or less), but I’d love to.

The cover of the 1985 paperback (at the top of this blog) is by Tom Newsom and is based on an inner illustration by Mr. Senn that he drew in 1980.

Tom Newsom is a prolific artist. I have a ton of books with his art on the cover (Lynne Reid Banks’ The Indian in the Cupboard, James Howe’s Celery Stalks at Midnight, Ellen Conford’s Diary of a Monster’s Son, three more of Mr. Senn’s books, and many more). He also has painted some pretty popular Santa Claus art.

If you really enjoyed this book, there are two more written in the same universe…so to speak. Not the dinosaur universe, but Walter’s “normal” universe. These books are Ralph Fozbek and the Amazing Black Hole Patrol (Avon Camelot, 1986) and Loonie Louie Meets the Space Fungus (Avon Camelot, 1991: Steve Senn writing as Oscar Steven Senn). Both feature boys having science-fiction-y fantastic adventures and are quite fun.

That's all for now.  Join us next time for... RRRAWWWWRRR!   AAAaaaaarrrrggghhh!!! Dinosaaaaaaurrrrr! I've gotta run... fast!

Oscar Senn AKA Steve Senn: A Bibliography and Introduction

Oscar Senn (AKA Steve Senn, Oscar Steven Senn, Steve Oscar Senn, etc…) as he is known to his friends and family, is best known as an author (mostly as "Steve Senn") and artist (as "Oscar Senn"). He was born in Americus, Georgia in 1950 and was raised in Dawson. He went to school at the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida. He worked for The Florida Times-Union and the Miami Herald newspapers as an illustrator (I’d love to see these). He also worked as an Art Director in Jacksonville, Florida. He moved to Los Angeles, California for a while where he was also an Art Director, and I believe he currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida again.

Being a "book" blog, I will be mostly focusing on Oscar/Steve's books.  ha ha.

His first book, writing as Steve Senn, was The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbek (Hastings House, 1980) and it is one of his best known books. I have a blog that will be posted later about it on here. It is about a boy who wakes up in a different universe that is exactly like his own… except everything that was Human is now Dinosaur. The book was released in paperback format from Avon/Camelot five years later (1985). Later that same year, there was an animated CBS Storybreak episode of it. Mr. Senn illustrated the cover (of the hardcover version) and the book itself. The paperback’s cover looks like it was done by Tom Newsom (one the GREAT unsung heroes of the illustrator world; if you have a lot of kid’s paperbacks from the 80’s you probably have some of Mr. Newsom’s work… or even if you have some Celestial Seasoning’s boxes in your cupboard!).

Next came Mr. Senn’s books for young Science Fiction / Fantasy readers, the Spacebread series of books; Spacebread (Atheneum, 1981) and Born of Flame: A Spacebread Story (Atheneum, 1982). They are about a swashbuckling interstellar cat named Spacebread and her adventures in the universe. These books are Sci-fi/Fantasy for young adults, and kids should eat ‘em up… if you can find them. The covers were painted by the author, and the first book, Spacebread, is illustrated Mr. Senn too. The character of Spacebread is based on a real Persian kitty that Mr. Senn had for several years in the mid-seventies. As far as I know, the two Spacebread books have only been available in hardcover.

A Circle in the Sea (Atheneum, 1981) came next. This book is hard to find at an affordable price, but the story is excellent. I just interlibrary loaned it because I finally gave up the search. Stupidly, I didn’t write down the copyright info before I gave it back! I believe it is so hard to find because so many who have read it LOVE it so much. The author told me that this book is his “best stuff in print.” It is about a girl who receives an ancient ring that gives her the power to transfer her essence/mind into the body of a dolphin named Breee. An “adaptation” of this book was reprinted in a textbook called Blueprints by Virginia A. Arnold and Carl B. Smith (Macmillan Publishing Company, 1989; part of the Macmillan Connection Reading Program) under the title “A Gift From the Sea” (which is the title of one of the chapters of the book).

I compared these a bit when I had A Circle in the Sea from the library. The 20 page “adaptation” is very short and it cuts out some of the scarier elements (like how the ring was still attached to a finger!), and it is newly illustrated by Warren Chang. The original hardcover’s dust-jacket was painted by Mr. Senn and it is beautiful. I believe A Circle in the Sea was released only as a hardcover.

Next: In the Castle of the Bear (Atheneum, 1985). This is a tale that can capture many imaginations and possibly even disturb you a bit too. It is about a young boy, Jason, who secretly writes poetry and how he deals with his inner demons including his mother’s death and a possible witch named Lauren who also happens to be his new stepmother. As a “child of divorce” I can see how this book could really effect and fascinate some readers, but I’ve always had loving step-parents (yeah… more than one) that I’ve never had ill-feelings about (but I also didn’t have a parent die first). Jason’s emotions are strong, and Mr. Senn conveys them in his words very well. The front of the dust-jacket is painted by Mr. Senn, and the back of the dust-jacket has an illustration featuring “the Bear” also drawn by Mr. Senn. Also, if you have this book, take off the dust jacket and look at the beautiful copper colored foil-stamping on the book cover. Nice. I believe this was released only in hardcover.

After that comes a sequel (well, sort-of) to Double Disappearance called: Ralph Fozbek and the Amazing Black Hole Patrol (Avon Camelot, 1986). If you’ve read Double Disappearance, you will recognize some of the characters (like Dr. Krebnickel and Ralph himself who were both in Double Disappearance!). Mr. Senn illustrated the book, and Tom Newsome did the cover of the paperback (no hardcover was released as far as I know). This book also features Loonie Louie Fabmyer who got his own book in this series in 1991. Also in this book, the town gets a name “Fogville” (I really don’t remember it getting mentioned in the first book), because of the name of the town and the changing main characters, this could be called The Fogville Series. Mr. Senn’s illustration style choice changed a bit in this book.

The next book by Steve Senn is The Sand Witch (Avon Camelot, 1987). The title, an obvious pun, tells us that there is a witch in this book… and she lives on the beach. Running in at less than 100 pages, this book is a quick read. Don’t let the silly title stop you, this book is a fun jaunt. Two kids, Frick and Jenny (yes, I said “Frick”…odd name) become obsessed over the possibility that their neighbor is a witch, but that is only the beginning of this story. The Science-Fiction twist in this book really thrilled me as a younger reader. Again, Steve Senn’s inner illustration style choice changed; this time they remind me of Ron Barrett’s style). Tom Newsom’s cover painting is very fun, and it also is based on a couple of Mr. Senn’s inner illustrations. Paperback only.

Steve Senn’s last published book for children was another Fogville book, Loonie Louie Meets the Space Fungus (Avon Camelot, 1991) which was written under the name Oscar Steven Senn. Because of the name change, I totally missed this book growing up. Okay, that was a lie, I was too busy reading Piers Anthony and Christopher Pike to notice a “kid’s book.” I didn’t realize this book existed when I first started researching Steve Senn in 2009. It is the second sequel (so to speak) of The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbek. The cover is illustrated by Tom Newsom again, but this time, sadly, Mr. Senn did not illustrate the book at all (which may have been a budgetary choice made by Avon Camelot). Paperback only.

In September 2010, Oscar Senn had an art exhibit called The Hard Time Saints. In collaboration with this event Hedgehog Books released a very limited dust-jacketed hardcover called The Hard Time Saints: Miraculous New Work by Oscar Senn. It is about 20 pages and is filled with the art that was displayed and his own thoughts on each piece. The idea behind these paintings originated in the Catholic Holy Cards, but these are more “common saints.” Oscar Senn’s write-ups are awe-filling and the artwork will enthrall you. He even includes the “cast-off” black and white pictures (purchased at flea markets mostly) that some of the paintings are based on. I bought my copy directly from Mr. Senn (and he signed it “For Robert – Blessings from a weird universe”). If you go to his website and contact him, he may have others left for sale or you can order it from the blurb website. Hardcover only.

Here are the names of some of Osacr Senn’s award winning but uncollected and possibly unpublished stories: “The Blood of Eden” (2003), “The Unexpected Guest” (2006, AKA “An Unexpected Guest” available on his website), “The Wall” (2002) and “Squeeby Rolic” (2006, available on his website).

Since his last children’s book, Oscar Senn has been mostly making a name for himself in the art world. His paintings are things of beauty! Many of his paintings feature the world from a child’s perspective and point of view. His turtle ones alone could easily make an award winning children’s book (he has had many turtle pets). He is represented in Los Angeles by Couturier Gallery on La Brea. In Florida he is represented by Fairfax Gallery in Ponte Vedra. He was featured in Fresco Fine Art Publications’ 2008 book Picturing Florida : From the First Coast to the Space Coast by KahrenJones Arbitman and Susan Gallo, Edition 3 of The Artful Home: The GUILD Sourcebook of Residential Art (2005, GUILD LLC). Every once in awhile, you will run into a spot illustration in a book like his small illustrations for The Alphabet that Changed the World: How Genesis Preserves a Science of Conciousness in Geometry and Gesture by Stan Tenen (North Atlantic Books, 2011). He even wrote a chapter in Donna Hicken’s book The Good Fight (Closet Publishing, 2004). Pathways to Awareness: How to Chart Your Own Spiritual Freedom (Hedgehog Books/Mystic Books, 2005) by David Keel featured Oscar Senn’s layout and design (and he may have done the cover art).

Surprisingly, you may also run into his stuff on your child’s toy shelf (or a fellow cubical dweller’s shelf in the case of his Pet Peeves plush stuffed animals or his Star Wars and Star Trek designs!).

Let me put it this way… Oscar Senn does Design Work (like Logo Design and Toy Design), Fine Art Painting, fiction writing, illustrates, and probably a million other things. Talent ooooooozes from this man’s pores! Give his books a try (or give them to your kids to try). Give his art a gander (I’d buy some if I could). I hope to see more from him in the future. Go to his website and check out more info:

PS: Mr. Senn, if you’re reading this, please give the possibility of e-publishing your out-of-print books a deep thought or two.

PPS:  He even illustrated the Stephen King/Peter Straub dust-jacket for the French hardcover edition of The Talisman, called Le Talisman Des Territoires:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mercer Mayer: The Newly Re-Discovered 70s Penthouse Magazine Illustrations! A Book 'em Bob exclusive!

As  – what I assumed to be – a gag gift last year, I received a group of Penthouse: The International Magazine for Men magazines most of which were released during the year of my birth, 1975.  I flipped through them and I put them away for awhile.  While discussing some authors online, it was mentioned that some of my favorite writers had works in these magazines and that was why they were given to me (WilliamKotzwinkle, Nick Tosches, J. G. Ballard, Cameron Crowe, Peter Benchley, and more).  So, they came out of storage, and I started reading them (really, for the articles, ha ha).

While reading, I discovered that I enjoyed the humor of a semi-regular columnist named Henry Morgan ("The Original Bad Boy of Broadcasting").  Henry Morgan, who was born in March of 1915 and died in May of 1994, was a humorist.  He was an actor, a comedian, a game show host, a radio personality, and a writer.  He wrote about 50 or more humor columns for Penthouse magazine from 1970 to 1976.  I do not have all of these issues (not even close, ha ha), but I went through the ones that I have in order to read these articles and most are pretty darn funny.

Now, why am I mentioning this?  Well, it turns out that Mercer Mayer illustrated some of Henry Morgan’s articles! THE Mercer Mayer!  The “Little Critter” and “Little Monster” children’s author/illustrator Mercer Mayer!  I found four illustrations in the magazines I have, and he may have done many more for all I know.  This information isn’t anywhere on the internet (until now)!  What’s that you say?  “Why isn't it out there, Robert?”  Well, I haven’t put it out there yet, that's why!  Ha ha.  Just kidding (sort of).  Actually, the illustrations are not credited at all to anyone except for Mercer Mayer’s signature in or around each illustration).  He isn’t mentioned in the credits of the magazines at all either. His name isn’t even in small print near his illustrations (like it is on most of the other illustrations in these magazines).   I only caught that they were him immediately upon seeing the pictures, because I’ve studied his works so much and I recognize his style from this time period.

Most of Henry Morgan’s articles are illustrated by other people, and I found only four that are definitely illustrated by Mercer Mayer out of the magazines I have.  As I've said, there may have been more because I certainly don’t have every issue of this magazine from this time period, and I don't really want to buy every 70's issue just to flip through and see if there are more Mercer Mayer pics.  Keeping the dozen I have locked away from the kids is hard enough.

In each case, Mercer Mayer’s illustrations are based on the articles they accompany.  So, I assume that Mr. Mayer was sent a copy of the Mr. Morgan’s write-up, and then he drew the picture.
"Okay Tribesmen..." top right part (cut off)

"Okay Tribesmen..."almost bottom, left part (cut off)

Illustration for “Okay Tribesmen, Now Hear This” by Henry Morgan in Penthouse: The International Magazine for Men, Vol. 5, #10, June 1974.  Illustration on page 98.   Now, while this picture is great, it does contain nudity and eroticism.  So, I am not going to post most of the picture (sorry, you will have to get the magazine on eBay or at Amazon if you want to see how Mercer Mayer draws panties, naked butts and breasts).   His signature is on a rock at the bottom right of the whole picture (not in this picture).   Like many children’s illustrators, even Mercer Mayer has one or two “naughty” illustrations in his past.  When I first saw this one, I was a little shocked, but not appalled.  He shows lust and native nudism in a very fun way and there is nothing overtly "nasty" about it.   Art wise, it is much better than most of the “naughty” cartoon illustrators of this time period.

"Good Eats"

Illustration for “Good Eats” by Henry Morgan in Penthouse:The International Magazine for Men, Vol. 6, #5, January 1975.  Illustration on page 80.   This is a great picture filled with everything I love of Mercer Mayer’s 1970s work (his signature is on the table at the bottom right-hand side).   Just look at that snooty waiter!  Awesome!   That (freshly killed? Yikes!) polar bear looks delicious! There is even an octopus that looks like he’s been waiting 35 years for a color change in order to reappear in Octopus Soup 35 years later.  Ha ha.  Also, like in the others, Mercer Mayer doesn’t pay full attention to the frame and goes over it on purpose.  This makes the older woman in the front really pop out and it gives the work some more depth (along with her ample cleavage, ha ha).

"Another Damn Year is Under Way"

Illustration for “Another Damn Year is Under Way” by Henry Morgan in Penthouse: The International Magazine for Men, Vol. 6, #6, February 1975.  Illustration on page 82.   Another humorous gem of a drawing!  That housewife looks tired but unfazed while cooking and ironing at the same time!  The Newspaper says “The News,”  “Arabs Bomb Yonkers,” “Flash,” “No Swedes Left in Sweden,” and “After All…. Tomorrow is Another Day” (the book at the bottom is “Gone With the Wind”).  While looking in the dark corners of this room:

I find myself searching (fruitlessly) for the spider and grasshopper that are hidden in the Little Critter books. Ha ha.

"The Irish"

Illustration for “The Irish” by Henry Morgan in Penthouse:The International Magazine for Men, Vol. 6, #7, March 1975.  Illustration on page 80.   The baby makes this one a personal favorite:

that and the demure pig: 

Plus, you have got to love that cable knit sweater too! The “Mickey Go Home” sign and title of the article can give you an idea of what Henry Morgan’s write-up is about.  

I have written Mercer Mayer twice (once last year and once this year) asking him about his Magazine work and what magazines he was in (I only mentioned three of the four that I had found at the time), but the only response he could give me recently was, "I can't add anything more right now, but who knows what the future will bring?"  I don’t want to bother him by pushing the subject with further emails, but I hope he kept some kind of record.  I’ve seen his work for Harper’s Magazine in 1967 (children’s book illustrator Roy McKie has illustrations in a lot of the same issues).  Mercer Mayer also did book cover work for Harper & Row and Dial in 1967 (like the 1st American printings of Logan’s Run and The Master and Margarita).  There’s probably a lot more magazine and book appearances by Mercer Mayer that I don’t know about (see his bibliography on Wikipedia for what I do know, and I will be adding these magazines to that list too).   Feel free to tell me about them if you see them... PLEASE!

Have you ever wished you could go through an illustrator’s rough draft pile? *Sigh* That is a dream my heart yearns to do.  I hope Mercer Mayer gives his originals and roughs to a museum somewhere so they can tour it all around for fans everywhere or at least have a “Mercer Mayer Archive” or “Mercer Mayer Collection” that can be perused.  Can you imagine how many unpublished pieces of art he must have from the last 45 years!  I can only pray he didn’t “recycle” them! YIKES!

It is lost masterpieces like these Penthouse works that really make me wish there was a Mercer Mayer Art Book that collected them.  Maurice Sendak has a couple of great ones (The Art of Maurice Sendak and The Art of Maurice Sendak: 1980 - Present).  Why not Mercer Mayer?  I’d gladly put it together!  I’m volunteering here.  So, if there are any interested publishers out there, contact me, please!  Of course, Mercer Mayer would need to be interested in such a project/product too.   

With that:

Goodnight, sleep tight, and don't let the Zipperump-a-zoos bite,

Robert Brouhard

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mercer Mayer Versus Maurice Sendak: My Thoughts on the Subject

While growing up in the 1970's, I had my favorite books.  There were eight total; four in one little box, and four in another little box.  One set of books had words, and the other didn’t.  These box sets were The Nutshell Library by Maurice Sendak (1962, containing: Alligators all Around, One was Johnny, Chicken Soup with Rice, and Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue) and Four Frogs in a Box by Mercer Mayer (1976, containing: A Boy, a Dog and a Frog; Frog Where are You; A Boy, a Dog, a Frog and a Friend; and Frog on His Own).  Like many of my “precious” childhood favorites, my mother has my Nutshell Library set of books at her house.

Now, I’ve heard that others have had some confusion over these two illustrators.  Many claiming that Mercer Mayer is overly influenced by Maurice Sendak.  I even heard people give credit to Mercer Mayer for writing some of Maurice Sendak's works (and vice versa)!

I had similar thoughts when I was very young because The Nutshell Library and Four Frogs in a Box were both small boxes of four books... but that was about it.

Now to examine these similarities:

Firstly, Maurice Sendak (born in 1928) started having his illustrations published in 1947.  Mercer Mayer (born in 1943) first had his illustrations published in 1967. That is a 20 year difference (and they are close to that in their age difference).  So, it is very possible that Mercer Mayer was very aware of Maurice Sendak's work.  Sendak's work was popular, and it is even possible that a publisher told Mercer Mayer to do something “similar” in order to be published.

Secondly, they do both have a couple of “boy”-style characters that appear in a lot of their works.   They both have dark-haired boys that they’ve used for their characters. For Maurice Sendak, this is probably his “Pierre” archetype (which may have started in some of his early illustrations for Ruth Krauss books like A Hole is to Dig).   Mercer Mayer’s “boy”-character probably started with the unnamed boy in A Boy, a Dog and a Frog book and developed into many other similar looking/feeling boys in Terrible Troll, There's a Nightmare in My Closet, I am a Hunter, A Special Trick, Bubble Bubble, You’re the Scaredy Cat, etc (and also with slightly different color hair or glasses in If I Had…, Mine, A Silly Story, and others)… plus some of his illustrations for other authors like in The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald, Outside My Window (Liesel Moak Skorpen), Margaret’s Birthday (Jan Wahl), Grandmother Told Me (Jan Wahl),  Boy Was I Mad (Kathryn Hitte), The Boy Who Made a Million (Sidney Offit), etc…   BUT Maurice Sendak and Mercer Mayer are both men, and they were dark-haired boys once.  It only makes sense for them to take influences from their own lives. 

One specific comparison that I’ve heard has been Mercer Mayer’s There’s a Nightmare in My Closet versus Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.   One is about a boy dealing with his fears and getting over it (Nightmare).  The other is about a boy who goes to a fantasy land because he’s mad at his mother but comes home eventually (Wild Things).  The Wild Things characters aren’t an object of fear in Maurice Sendak’s book; they are what the boy wants to be.  The Nightmare character in Mercer Mayer’s book is an object of fear that the boy deals with and overcomes.   Yes, they both have (very different looking) monsters, but that is about it.  To be honest, I really don't get this comparison.

If you actually want to compare two books, you’d have to look at Maurice Sendak’s Very Far Away (1957) and Boy, Was I Mad! (1969, written by Kathryn Hitte and illustrated by Mercer Mayer).  

Both feature boys in very different looking cowboy hats and boots running away; one is a dark-haired boy who is “mad” because he got in trouble and had to sit quietly in the corner (Boy, Was I Mad!), and the other is a light-haired boy who is “upset” because of a new sibling and not being listened to (Very Far Away).  The comparisons end there.  The two boy’s “adventures” while running away are very different.  Sendak’s boy meets a bunch of talking animals that are also running away.  Hitte/Mayer’s boy meets real-life characters.  It is only the running away cowboy-dressed boys that are similar (and the Mercer Mayer design was probably Kathryn Hitte’s idea).  But, boys dressed as cowboys and boys running away are common themes and who knows if anyone was influenced by anyone else.  Also, Maurice Sendak tends to use a minimalist approach for his drawings in Very Far Away, and Mercer Mayer's are very detailed and rich in Boy, Was I Mad!.  So, maybe there really isn't anything here to compare.

Thirdly, maybe people just get confused because their first names start with "M."  Could it be that simple? Maybe.  Maurice Mayer and Mercer Sendak... oops... I mean Mayer Sendak and Mercer Maurice... oops... Yeah, maybe....

So, my conclusion is this. Mercer Mayer may have been slightly "influenced" by Maurice Sendak. I know he respects Maurice Sendak from comments of his that I've read. I am also sure that people come up to Mercer Mayer all the time and tell how much they love (insert Maurice Sendak title here... probably Where the Wild Things Are). Who knows, maybe people come up to Maurice Sendak and tell him how much they love Little Critter?

There are plenty of "similar" books out there by other authors and illustrators, and I may break some out and share them on here in the future.  In the meantime, "Goodnight, sleep tight, don't let the Zipperump-a-zoos bite!"