Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are
At Childrens bookstore, we are saddened at the passing of children’s author, Maurice Sendak.
Sometimes, rarely, a book connects universally to a generation of kids, and becomes iconic. Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” is one of those rare gems.
After The New York Times reported that Sendak succumbed to a stroke and died, we could not help but write a post about what is easily one of our favorite children’s books.
Childhood isn’t always a place of innocence and what more masterful a way to tackle those darker moments inherent in childhood… those monstrous tantrums and devilish daydreams… than with Max’s voyage to visit the wild things. We don’t just observe Max acting out in essential kid-fashion; we’re on the journey with him. It is an ingredient to Sendak’s writing that makes his books. Despite precious few words of text, the imagery created by Sendak with his art, and the just-right amount of literary nuance, allows readers young and old to join Max on the journey. If you don’t have this seminal book for your children, buy it today by clicking here.
Sendak, with his penchant for understanding children and their worldview, is among the ranks of the elite children’s authors. That doesn’t make him an elitist, however. Besides, kids are an entity that Sendak intuitively understood. He often referred to writing for children as a concept that just did not work because children are, “too complicated.” He didn’t dumb the stories down for them, and said he wanted to write stories that kids would “be interested in.” That, he did. The simplicity of the story written doesn’t detract from the complexity of its overall message. Childhood is hard, there are moments of bitter, raging loneliness, and like Max, children will seek out places where they feel that “someone loved him best of all.”
Thankfully, they have a world created by Maurice Sendak to seek refuge in…even if seeking it out leads us to a dangerous place filled with wild things. It is still a place where, just for a while, we can be king for a day.
At one point, Maurice Sendak explained that kids his favorite compliment was one from a kid who ate his artwork.
“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it,” Sendak said.
We feel a bit the same way about Sendak’s passing. “Where the Wild Things Are” allowed the kid in each of us to return for a few minutes to experience a voyage, a wild rumpus, and the thrill of being a king, and for that we are sublimely grateful.