Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Where the wild things live forever

There have been magicians in the world of children's writing and, surely, Maurice Sendak was one. He died today, and I'm crying for the loss of man I never met face-to-face, but I loved him just the same.

 He gave us truth and courage and wondrous possibilities by changing and challenging the landscape of books for children. The world was not all blue skies and kites in Sendak's stories.

 Children misbehaved, faced their monsters and figured out a thing or two about surviving this world: But the wild things cried, “Oh please don’t go - we’ll eat you up - we love you so!” And Max said, “No!” The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws but Max stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye.

 I get goosebumps reading the next lines, which say so much about the fluidity of time and memory: and [he] sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day...

Maurice Sendak wrote and illustrated many books besides the Caldecott medal winner, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, of course.
 I adored reading the joyful CHICKEN SOUP WITH RICE: A Book of Months out loud to my daughter:
 In January
 it's so nice
 while slipping
 on the sliding ice
 to sip hot chicken soup
 with rice.
Sipping once
 sipping twice
 sipping chicken soup
 with rice.

 Oh, please don't go, Maurice, we love you so. But since you must thank you for the stories you gave us. They will live on and on in our hearts, in our minds and in book collections everywhere.
Listen to Maurice Sendak read WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.


Karen Jones Gowen said...

Oh, I didn't know this! He was a wonderfully gifted writer of children's literature.

Unknown said...

One of my tall boys is named Max. I'm so sad this great storyteller is gone. I'm so glad his stories aren't

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Karen: He left a great legacy.

Laraine: Me, too.

Donna said...

Too true. I didn't know.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi Donna: Yes, indeed.

Everyone: I want to add this Sendak quote I found:
"Children do live in fantasy and reality; they move back and forth very easily in a way we no longer remember how to do."
As quoted in Questions to an Artist Who Is Also an Author : A Conversation between Maurice Sendak and Virginia Haviland (1972) by Virginia Haviland

Laura Canon said...

So sorry to hear this this morning. Remembering the girls who lived down the hall from me in my college dorm who gave me a tiny Nutshell library as a present...and reading those tiny books to my son. "H is for Having Headaches."

Jemi Fraser said...

I hadn't heard the news. So sad. My kids and I spent hours reading/talking/enjoying Where the Wild Things Are. Such a brilliant man.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Laura & Jemi: He brought magic and left memories with so many of us.

Yvonne Osborne said...

That was sad news and a lovely tribute you wrote.

Sarah Laurence said...

I saw that headline in the NYT this morning and I'm so sad. Sendak is one of my favorite authors/illustrators. I read the Wild Things to my son every night for his second year until we both memorized it. I loved the Chicken Soup and Pierre books and saved the 4 set from my childhood. Thanks for your tribute.

Anne Gallagher said...

He also did all the illustrations for the Little Bear books, which I loved as a kid, and so does my daughter. Lovely tribute. He will be missed.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

What a beautiful post and tribute, Trisha. His passing is a huge loss, but his books and illustrations will live on. And that is so wonderful.

Julie Dao said...

Maurice Sendak will truly be missed. I read a wonderful tribute yesterday that shared some letters he had sent back to children who'd written to him. He was a man who understood the wonder and adventure and fears of youth like no other. What a visionary. Glad my childhood included his works.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Yvonne: Thank you, my dear.

Sarah: He knew how to speak to children, to accept the wild and dark places and come back, stronger.

Anne; I love the Little Bear illustrations. My daughter and I used to read them together, too.

Cynthia: They will live on, because they are so true and so beautifully crafted. That is his legacy.

Julie: Childhood sets the stage for the rest of life. He understood that ignoring the monsters wouldn't help kids figure out how to deal with them. He saw the truth of it.

LynNerdKelley said...

What a beautiful tribute to Maurice Sendak. He was brilliant, and I love that awesome line, too.

cleemckenzie said...

While he's gone from us, he's left us an amazing body of work. You've done a great job reminding us of that.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Lynn & Lee: Thank you, ladies. :)

Faith Pray said...

Lovely tribute, Pat. I met him when I was a teenager, and have carried this connection to his stories ever since. Somehow his passing makes me feel like the book world is now missing something huge.