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Maurice Sendak passes at age 83

Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are

Sad, sad day. Maurice Sendak, children’s author and illustrator best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are, has passed away at the age of 83.

From The New York Times:

In book after book, Mr. Sendak upended the staid, centuries-old tradition of American children’s literature, in which young heroes and heroines were typically well scrubbed and even better behaved; nothing really bad ever happened for very long; and everything was tied up at the end in a neat, moralistic bow.

Mr. Sendak’s characters, by contrast, are headstrong, bossy, even obnoxious. (In “Pierre,” “I don’t care!” is the response of the small eponymous hero to absolutely everything.) His pictures are often unsettling. His plots are fraught with rupture: children are kidnapped, parents disappear, a dog lights out from her comfortable home.

Tom Spurgeon:

A curmudgeon and character of the first order, Maurice Sendak made several good books and one titanic one. I don’t know anyone else whose reputation is so closely aligned to a single work that has never been diminished or re-appraised for that fact, but you don’t step to “Where The Wild Things Are.” You just don’t.

Nice interview here with NPR’s Steve Inskeep from 2006.

Community Comments

#1 Birdie
@ 9:24 am

It’s a sad day to see him go. We’re all lucky to enjoy the things he brought us while he still lived.

#2 Mark_Tatulli
@ 12:21 pm

Two-part Maurice Sendak interview on Colbert Report…a must watch for any Sendak fan…note especially the final Sendak thought at the end of Part II…–1–2

A sad, sad day

#3 Pete McDonnell
@ 1:21 pm

A really amazing talent. He said that the big visual influence on him for “In the Night Kitchen” was Little Nemo in Slumberland. “Where the Wild Things Are” was a much more popular success, but I don’t think it’s nearly as good as Night Kitchen.

#4 Michael Pohrer (MJ)
@ 2:46 pm

Wow, that’s sad. To hear that Maurice is not having such a great week at all. I always admired his honesty about the younger generations view as seen through an amazing artist such as Maurice.

“Children are tough, though we tend to think of them as fragile. They have to be tough. Childhood is not easy. We sentimentalize children, but they know what’s real and what’s not. They understand metaphor and symbol.” NYT “78”

?Children do live in fantasy and reality; they move back and forth very easily in a way we no longer remember how to do.?

I heard this somewhere. Children will always tell you what they want, not what you want them to hear. Which to me hints at a success model for children’s illustration, (I throw cartooning etc. all in the same category field.)

On a personal note to interested journalists:

This should be a sign of significance to editors. Take a look at the comics pages. I take it as what the younger generation wants to read not what you want to read in the morning while you are doing you’re editorial duties. (Smaller, minimal choices. The overall pages have drastically become terrible looking, and not very appealing) I will probably end up myself cancelling my remaining subscriptions.

Quit complaining about lost revenues and do something! Cartoons sell, everybody knows this. Expand the #@#% comic pages offer more choices. Would you offer something new like a “Where The Wild Things Are” strip if it was available? Most likely not due to it’s oddness and overtones.

Maurice seemed to have a knack for success to me, so why doesn’t this translate to comics pages? Offer more material that captures what the younger generations want to read. Make huge pushes for younger subscribers. The formula is there use it. This is your huge moment of DOH!

We now return you to your normal programming. Yes, the world has lost an amazing artist. Maurice Sendak will be remembered forever.

#5 b.j. dewey
@ 7:53 pm

Very sorry to hear of this. Sendak’s art was unique in every sense of the word, immediately recognizable, and there was his deep understanding of children and the nature of childhood. He’ll be missed.

#6 Darryl Heine
@ 8:07 pm

R.I.P. Maurice Sendak, say hi to your WILD THINGS in heaven.

#7 Dan Bielinski
@ 9:39 pm

RIP Maurice.

This interview is worth a listen. Be prepared to cry.

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