It’s Literally Wednesday

Little Bear books (illustrations)
Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and A Prologue
In the Night Kitchen
Where the Wild Things Are

If only we could all leave behind four works of this quality.

And this was only a small fraction of the great books by Maurice Sendak, who died yesterday at the age of 83. He was one of a handful of people who, in the mid-20th century, altered the landscape of children’s literature.

Where the Wild Things Are is one of a handful of books my mother read to me (when it was new and somewhat subversive) that I, in turn, read to my children. I expect a repeat for many generations to come.

Coincidentally, Stephen Colbert’s I’m A Pole (And So Can You!) was released yesterday. On the cover, above the title, is the following: “The sad thing is: I like it!” – Maurice Sendak

Colbert’s book is, frankly, stupid.  However, we do have Stephen Colbert to thank for having Maurice Sendak on his show earlier this year for one of the most honest, thoughtful, and entertaining interviews ever. Take a look; it is well worth the time.

Curiously, yesterday was also the publication date of Show Me a Story: Why Picture Books Matter: Conversations with 21 of the World’s Most Celebrated Illustrators by Leonard S. Marcus, the foremost authority on children’s literature (and a genuinely fine person in his own right — and in his own write). Marcus includes wonderful interviews with Sendak from 1988, 1993, and 2011. Sendak states that Outside Over There was his favorite book, Higglety Pigglety Pop! his favorite in sentiment, and Dear Mili the grace note.

From the obituary published by the Washington Post:
Mr. Sendak’s partner of more than 50 years, Eugene Glynn, a psychoanalyst, died in 2007. He never had children but instead owned many dogs.
“I’m not a good parent type,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2003. “It’s strange, I have the gift in books of comprehending how wild children are, how terrifying they can be. But in real life they’re much too frightening. They’re too vulnerable. And it scares me. How could you ever calm down with a kid?”

From an interview published last October in The Guardian:
“I’m totally crazy, I know that. I don’t say that to be a smartass, but I know that that’s the very essence of what makes my work good. And I know my work is good. Not everybody likes it, that’s fine. I don’t do it for everybody. Or anybody. I do it because I can’t not do it.”

Do you have a favorite Sendak memory?


This Week

Sara Pennypacker, author of Summer of the Gypsy Moths, and Christopher Healey, author of The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, Thursday, May 10th at 7p.m., Little Shop of Stories, free.

Ron Rash, author of The Cove, and Michael Stone, author of The Iguana Tree, Tuesday, May 15th at 7p.m., Decatur Library, sponsored by Georgia Center for the Book, free.

Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup, Tuesday, May 15th at 7p.m., Urban Oasis, free.

7 thoughts on “It’s Literally Wednesday”

  1. Anyone else hear the Fresh Air replay of three (I think) Sendak’s interviews yesterday? So touching and heartfelt.

  2. I heard the Fresh Air interivew too. It was excellent. My husband and I both cried at the end.

  3. The Really Rosie cartoon, Sendak poems/lyrics with music by and sung by Carole King, is a neglected classic. Essentially the Nutshell LIbrary (Pierre, One Was Johnnie, Chicken Soup with Rice, etc) put to music, with a slight story line and a couple of other songs thrown in. The whole thing can be found on youtube. The soundtrack is definitely on the children’s-CD’s-that-adults-like list. I love the illustrations in the Little Bear books too.

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