Take a spooky concept by Arthur Yorinks (Hey, Al), flesh it out with Maurice Sendak's muted palette of watercolor and pen and ink, and bring it all to three-dimensional life with paper engineering by Matthew Reinhart (Encyclopedia Prehistorica) and you've got the perfect Halloween pop-up book. Don't worry, the monsters in Mommy?, Sendak's first pop-up, don't mean any harm, and they certainly don't scare the little tot who has wandered into their midst. In his comfy blue rumpus suit and red toboggan (complete with white trim and a big yellow pompom), he surprises a mad scientist, runs into a vampire, cuddles up to some sort of ghoul, almost gets stomped on by Frankenstein and plays with a mummy (this spread is especially cool). For each monster he has a simple greeting: Mommy? With raised arms and grotesque faces, the monsters do not seem pleased to be disturbed.
As evidenced in his beloved Caldecott Medal winner, Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak is an expert at taming potentially unruly creatures kids included. He is also big on detail and he has outfitted the monsters' lair with stone and brick walls and a dirt floor, with scenes of a creepy graveyard visible through open cellar doors. All sorts of scary things are on display: weird ingredients (a bag of hands, for example), books (of spells, no doubt), beakers and flasks, pictures that see everything, a hieroglyph-covered sarcophagus. A werewolf with a passing resemblance to one of Max's wild things sports a fabulous pair of boxers, while another creature wears red pumps. Our little hero encounters monster after monster, but does he find his real mommy? Let your own little monster turn the pages and find out.