Lily Pond Paddlers painting by DJ Geribo
"Lily Pond Paddlers" painting by DJ Geribo

Animal Family by Randall Jarrell with Illustrations by Maurice Sendak is a fantasy story that was a nice change for me and something I haven't read much of over the years. But I was interested in this book because of Randall Jarrell, who I recently learned, had committed suicide. I read that after he turned 50, he became very depressed about aging. He went through several bouts of depression going on and off medication. Although it was reported an accident when he was struck by a car and killed, many who knew him thought it was suicide. Jarrell was only 51 years old.

I'm also very interested in Maurice Sendak who did the illustrations for this book. Most people know Sendak from his book "Where the Wild Things Are" for which he won the Caldecott Medal in 1964.

This story was quite imaginative with a hunter, a mermaid, a bear, and a lynx as the main characters in this book. They give new meaning to modern family but since none of them knew what a traditional family was, they created their own which worked for them. Near the end of the book the lynx finds an orphaned boy and so the nuclear family was complete. Each were alone and orphaned in a sense but found their place was together.

A delightful story, a fantasy worth spending the short amount of time it will take to read it.

I give Animal Family 4.5 out of 5 stars **** 1/2

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