While reading Hungry Jim by Laurel Snyder, I was picking up on a vibe I could not really figure out. In the back of my head, I was thinking, “that’s um…. what is this style like?” It clicked after reading the authors afterwards. This book is a takeoff of Maurice Sendak’s work. And it does a good job of bringing that out but keeping Snyder’s voice. But since I am not a huge Sendak fan, I was not picking that up at first, but once you know, that style is obvious.
However, the illustrations of Chuck Groenink are less Sendak. These illustrations are as expressive as Sendak’s work, but only look a little like his. They share qualities like being perfectly detailed and fun to explore. But I did not see the homage to Sendak in Groenink’s art. Yet, this books artwork is a treat. The colors are not overpowering, the details are not “too much” and does fit with the text.
It is the story itself that will be a hit or miss. Do you like a story about a character named Jim, who wakes up with a tail (where no tail has been before) and goes down to breakfast only to eat, his mom, then townsfolk as he wanders the town looking for more food and finally eats a bear that is also hungry and wanted to eat Jim? But then Jim turns around (now stuffed) and spits the people he ate out in the opposite order he ate them (whole), except the bear? Then this is for you.
If Jim had been hungry and gobbled the pancakes his mother made him or invited animals that wanted to eat him home to eat his mothers’ magical pancakes, I could have gotten behind it slightly more. And while I am not saying Hungry Jim is a bad story, it is a book where your personality quirks must fit the quirks of this story.