It Happened in Pinsk

by Arthur Yorinks and Richard Egielski, 1983

Curious reader Ingrid Haftel suggested It Happened in Pinsk might make a nice addition to our ever growing HEADLESS section. We agree.

On Nevsky Avenue, Maurice Sendak yearns to be "a Somebody like Kaminski the wrestler or wealthy Belcheck."

Life changes quickly for Mr. Sendak when his head disappears and he is forced to scavenge trashcans.

Events turn from bad to worse when Sendak is kidnapped and forced to eat with Heidi and Brezhnev.

Thankfully Sendak locates his head which is great news for music fans everywhere. The next year, 1984, he would create an opera based on one of his best books, Higglety, Pigglety, Pop! . . .

thus becoming a Somebody. 


by William Wondriska, 1960

Puff by the wondrous Wondriska employs a common theme in children's books: a neglected object/toy/character/animal is called to duty when the chips are down. In this case, an antiquated steam engine, vs. a defective circus train in a snowstorm.

At first read the story may not be as moving as Maira Kalman's Fireboat or as universal as Robert L. May's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or even Walsh and Seibold's Olive, the Other Reindeer but the telling of this tale is in the graphics. Noted Professor of Graphic Arts, Shahn Bushmiller Bass states, "Graphics, an important and powerful form of storytelling in juvenile fiction, chapbooks, primers, etc., are quite often neglected and or misunderstood not only by the reading public at large but by the academia rank and file as well." We are not sure what that means. All we know is Puff has nice graphics.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS BOOK? Children. And graphic designers. And children of graphic designers. 

Why is it the most innovative of children's books are always the first to go out of print? All of Mr. Wondriska's wonderful books are unavailable.

Train track endpapers.

The Stupids Die

by Harry Allard and James Marshall, 1985

Sometimes all one needs is a great title.

"That's the only thing I truly envy Jim for. Deep envy. I think The Stupids Die is the best title ever. . ."
–– Maurice Sendak

WHY CHILDREN WILL LIKE IT: it has "stupid" and "die" in the title.
WHY PARENTS WILL HATE IT: it has "stupid" and "die" in the title.

I Want to Be a Mechanic

by Carla Greene and Mary Gehr, 1959

"It's a beautiful day," said Mother. "Can we go on a picnic?" asked Jack.
Not if Father has anything to do with it.

Boy, Father really likes to talk about machines.

Wheels, levers, poles, carts. . .

windmills, old mills. We get it Dad, you like machines.
"On the way home"?! What happened to the picnic? We feel the author is missing a really great opportunity to get away from machines for a few pages here.

Now Dad is trying to distract us from the missed picnic with even more wheel and lever talk.

One Day Jack said, "I want to be a mechanic."
"You will make a good mechanic some day," said Mr. Tom.
Right, but it's no picnic.

Turns out the book is nothing more than propaganda for the working masses. No wonder it's so red.

The Wizard of Oz

by L. Frank Baum and Graham Rawle, 2008

Ever wonder what it would be like if Jan Svankmajer made a children's book? No? Never? Well, we do. All the time. So imagine our excitement when our pals over at Greasy Kid Stuff turned us onto Graham Rawle's twisted take on The Wizard of Oz.


This book is big and heavy too. We didn't have a scale handy but we'd guess it's a good 10 or 30 pounds easy. If you dropped it on a witch? You could kill her.

296 lavishly illustrated pages. The writer is pretty good too.


by Roger Duvoisin, 1950

This is a good example of how life SHOULD work. It never does because everyone is dumb and doesn't listen when I, uh, people say how smart they are and how they should be the boss.

Petunia is smart. She has a book!

She starts telling people what to do and solving all their problems. They believe her because, well, she has a book. It only stands to reason.

I guess it's a book called AMATEUR DENTIST, because she suggests pulling all the horses teeth. The horse runs away. Stupid horse! Don’t you see the book?

Then some other stuff happens.

The best is when she convinces the animals to eat fireworks. She is very smart.

Then she learns a lesson or something. We pretty much stopped reading here.
WHY CHILDREN WILL LIKE IT: Class C explosives. Really, really smart ducks who you can learn from.

Emergency Mouse, Inspector Mouse, Quasimodo Mouse

By Bernard Stone and Ralph Steadman, 1978, 1980, 1984

Fear and Loathing illustrator + children's books = Edu-tainment.
The stories are fine but the reason to pore over this Mouse series of books is the artwork of Ralph Steadman, influential gonzo artist and noted pirate.


His old pal, Hunter S. Thompson (always a favorite with the younger set) makes a couple of cameos...
Not since Jackson Pollock has an artist done so much for the splatter, the smudge, the inkdrop. A few years ago Mr. Steadman signed our copy of Sigmund Freud. It's hard to tell where the printed book ends and his inscription begins. . .