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Maurice Sendak's lost picture book unearthed

‘Presto and Zesto in Limboland’ will be released in 2018

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Mary Altaffer/AP

Maurice Sendak, the celebrated children’s book author and illustrator behind Where the Wild Things Are, left us one more gem before he died in 2012. A new, unpublished picture book was discovered by Lynn Caponera, president of The Maurice Sendak Foundation, as she was going through Sendak’s files last year.

After overcoming the initial waves of shock and awe, the title will now be released in the fall of 2018 from Michael di Capua Books/HarperCollins.

“I read it in disbelief,” Michael di Capua, Sendak’s longtime publisher, told Publishers Weekly. “What a miracle to find this buried treasure in the archives. To think something as good as this has been lying around there gathering dust.”

The new book is called Presto and Zesto in Limboland, co-written by Sendak and Arthur Yorinks, a frequent collaborator. The discovery comes complete with a manuscript and illustrations, the latter of which were created in 1990 for a London Symphony performance of Leoš Janáček’s 1927 work Rikadla, a piece set around a series of Czech nursery rhymes.

See one of the illustrations below.

According to Yorinks, he and Sendak worked on the narrative about seven years after di Capua tried translating the Czech tales for a book.

“We both agreed they could, but what was story?” Yorinks recalled, describing the “hysterical afternoon of cracking each other up” that ensued. “The story became an homage to our own friendship so we named the characters after ourselves — Presto and Zesto.”

Presto and Zesto in Limboland will be released with minor revisions from Yorinks.

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