It was a shock to hear that author Maurice Sendak had died. Yes, he was 83, and yes, he’d recently had a stroke, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, but nonetheless, it was.
Like so many of you, I grew up on Sendak’s work. Where the Wild Things Are takes its place next to Pat the Bunny and Goodnight, Moon as the books I remember most from my childhood. There was a point where I knew Wild Things by heart, able to recite it at a moment’s notice.
Of course there were his other works that were just as fabulous if not as well known: In the Night Kitchen where Mickey goes and saves the day by flying a bread plane and delivering milk (it makes more sense in the book)
Chicken Soup with Rice – a book of months, and soup
Outside, Over There– this one is really interesting with child abductions, goblins, and ice babies…
One was Johnny– a great counting book, with a very snazzy schnauzer.
Pierre – one of my personal favorites. Pierre is the original hipster who just doesn’t care about anything. Of course things change when a hungry lion comes to call.
For the curious, there’s even audio of someone reading the whole book. Worth the 4 minute listen.
This is on top of all the other wonderful books Sendak wrote and illustrated. He even illustrated the original Little Bear books.
He didn’t just do children’s books, but I think that is probably what he will be most remembered for. He wanted to be known as more than just “the kiddie book guy,” illustraing a book with Tony Kushner based on Brundibar, an opera performed by of the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
But I think that children’s literature was forever changed and elevated because of his brilliant works. Children are thinking people who have vast imaginations, something some of us lose as we get older. Sendak never talked down to them or lied about the dangers in life. A goblin could steal your sibling, you could go hungry in the morning, you could be sent to bed without supper and end up in a whole and wild world.
I hope that wherever Sendak is, his dinner is still hot.