Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Maurice Sendak

Since posting about We Love You So, I've been reading it pretty religiously, which is why I know Maurice Sendak turns 81 today.

Sendak is the ultimate bad ass of children's picture book authors. His smart, dark, and inventive work has been banned by some, celebrated by most. I remember reading Into The Night Kitchen over and over again when I was younger, reveling in the vivid dream world Sendak created. I still enjoy the book today, as an homage to Windsor McKay, Oliver Hardy, and even as an unsettling nightmare influenced by the Holocaust.

From an NPR interview:

I think all children are in jeopardy. I think it is unnatural to think that there is such a thing as blue sky, white-clouded happy childhood for anybody. Childhood is a very, very tricky business of surviving it.

Sendak lets his fictional children be audacious, angry, and vulnerable. They transgress, they confront their horrifying surroundings, and sometimes they turn their fear upside-down into something positive and jubilant.

I've heard Sendak speak about how ludicrious the idea of a legacy feels to him, and how all he cares about is "contributing to the importance of being here."

So far so good, Mr. Sendak.

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