Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Maurice Sendak

It's funny. Rob told me that Maurice Sendak had died and it felt as if I'd been hit in the gut. How could it be? Maybe this is what people felt like when Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson died. Those deaths didn't really affect me much. It seemed like both had made some incredibly bad choices in their lives and while incredibly talented, I didn't really understand what the sudden saint-like pedestals upon which they were put was all about...weren't these the same people that had been ridiculing their lives? Anyway, back to Maurice Sendak...

After dropping Irene and Rhys off at school, I got in the car to run a few errands. I turned on Fresh Air and Terry was remembering Maurice Sendak. I listened to the whole interview. I can only begin to imagine what people must've been thinking as the went into the bank and came back out of the bank seeing me, sitting in my car, crying. I was there for the last interview that he gave to Terry. It was poignant and dear. It was clear that Mr. Sendak was pretty sure this would be his last interview with Terry.

I can remember being with my parents at one of their friends' houses - I must've been very young - and they had a hardback copy of Where the Wild Things Are. I can remember the sleeve of the book and looking at all the pictures.

When Mom and Ken got married, they went to Carmel for their honeymoon. They came back with a gift for me - The Juniper Tree - I still have it. I loved the pictures. I didn't realize when I got it that the illustrator was Maurice Sendak. I bought a copy of it when Irene was little (mine is very well loved and wasn't going to survive being held by a 4 year old looking through it over and over again). We read many of the stories and she enjoyed the illustrations as well.

The first time I read a book aloud in Spanish, it was Donde Viven Los Monstruos. I read it to one of the Head Start classes in 1998.

He talked, in his interview on Fresh Air, about being an atheist, and I loved when he talked about Emily Dickenson and Herman Melville and William Blake and Mozart being the people in whom he believed. They were his gods. Of course, mentioning Melville made me think of my friend Lydia Netzer.

I love that Sendak said that he never wrote children's books. "how do you set out to write a children's book?!" You can see it here on TateShots.

I love his creativity. I love his imagination. As long as children read his books, as long as they share his illustrations, he will continue to live on.

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