Pierre: A Cautionary Tale by Maurice Sendak

Among all of the story books my parents read to me as a child, one that really captured my imagination and always stuck with me was, “Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue“, (better known as “I don’t care, said Pierre”).

The book, by the American children’s writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak, (best known for his book “Where the Wild Things Are”, 1963), came as part of a miniture “Nutshell Library”, along with three other books by same author; “Chicken Soup with Rice”, “One was Johnny”, (a counting book) and “Alligators all Around”, (a alphabet book).

There was once a boy named Pierre
who only would say, “I don’t care!”
Read his story, my friend,
for you’ll find at the end
that a suitable moral lies there.

One day his mother said
when Pierre climbed out of bed
“Good morning, darling boy,
you are my only joy.”
Pierre said, “I don’t care!”

“What would you like to eat?”
“I don’t care!”
“Some lovely cream of wheat?”
“I don’t care!”
“Don’t sit backwards in your chair.”
“I don’t care!”
“Or pour syrup on your hair.”
“I don’t care!”
“You are acting like a clown.”
“I don’t care!”
“And we have to go to town.”
“I don’t care!”
“Don’t you want to come, my dear?”
“I don’t care!”
“Would you rather stay right here?”
“I don’t care!”
So his mother left him there.

His father said, “Get off your head
or I will march you up to bed!”
Pierre said, “I don’t care!”

“I would think that you could see”
“I don’t care!”
“Your head is where your feet should be!”
“I don’t care!”
“If you keep standing upside down”
“I don’t care!”
“We’ll never get to town.”
“I don’t care!”
“If only you would say, I care.”
“I don’t care!”
“I’d let you fold the folding chair.”
“I don’t care!”
So his parents left him there.
They didn’t take him anywhere.

Now as the night began to fall
a hungry lion paid a call.
He looked Pierre right in the eye
And asked him if he’d like to die.
Pierre said, “I don’t care!”

“I can eat you, don’t you see?”
“I don’t care!”
“And you will be inside of me.”
“I don’t care!”
“Then you will never have to bother”
“I don’t care!”
“With a mother and a father.”
“I don’t care!”
“Is that all you have to say?”
“I don’t care!”
“Then I’ll eat you, if I may.”
“I don’t care!”
So the lion ate Pierre.

Arriving home at six o’clock
his parents had a dreadful shock!
They found the lion sick in bed
and cried, “Pierre is surely dead!”

They pulled the lion by the hair.
They hit him with the folding chair.
His mother asked, “Where is Pierre?”
The lion answered, “I don’t care!”
His father said, “Pierre’s in there!”

They rushed the lion into town.
The doctor shook him up and down
and when the lion gave a roar
Pierre fell out upon the floor.
He rubbed his eyes and scratched his head
and laughed because he wasn’t dead.
His mother cried and held him tight.
His father asked, “Are you alright?”
Pierre said, “I am feeling fine
please take me home, it’s half past nine.”

The lion said, “If you would care
to climb on me, I’ll take you there.”
Then everyone looked at Pierre
who shouted, “Yes, indeed, I care!”
The lion took them home to rest
and stayed on as a weekend guest.

The moral of Pierre is: CARE!

2 thoughts on “Pierre: A Cautionary Tale by Maurice Sendak

  1. My children loved this book too. I was looking for the lyrics to share with my grandson who is now three.

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