The last time I heard Maurice Sendak speak, was on NPR several months ago. He was not well, and he missed some of his dear friends who had recently passed. But HE was still here. The stars were overhead and the earth was still in balance. And now? I often tell my students that no other picture book needed to be made after Where the Wild Things Are. It's perfect. It is the essence of childhood: To be "naughty", to run away, to want to control the unknown scaries, and in the end to come home to a warm supper because, despite everything, you are safe and loved.
I grew up with the Little Bear books and they (along with the Garth Williams/EB White books) are part of my DNA. In the Night Kitchen had a huge influence on me as did Wild Things. And, whenever I am stuck for inspiration, I pull out my copy of Outside, Over There, a book in which he manages to stuff his love for the Grimm Brothers, El Greco and Mozart... not an easy task for a picture book. Sadly I never got to see any of the stage versions of his stories, but I have all the clippings.
Thank you, Maurice Sendak, for never forgetting what it's like to be a child, for your fabulous creations, your imagination, perserverence and for the Wild Rumpus.
Listen to interviews on Fresh Air/National Public Radio
Tell them Anything, But tell them if it's True
Terrible Yellow Eyes
Illustration © Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are