Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Missing Maurice Sendak, 1928-2012

Maurice Sendak, author of (the often-challenged) In the Night Kitchen, Little Bear, Chicken Soup with Rice, and the ever-popular Where the Wild Things Are, passed away yesterday, May 8, 2012.

Jon Hodgman tweeted a link/video yesterday titled, "Sendak answers, beautifully (and barely), the question: "Why bother to get born?" It was a beautiful testament to a life well-lived, and an individual's acceptance of death after a good life. Links and videos and quotes all flew around yesterday in honor of Sendak, who was called "one of the most important children's book artists of the 20th century" and I do not disagree. But I think his books and life were much more far-reaching than children, and not just because we read his books growing up. The man championed talking to children like people and had incredible vision for his writing, and his life. He was a devoted dog lover, writing numerous books about his dog Jennie. The most notable being Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life. In the book, Jennie leaves home searching for greater meaning in her life. Finding herself inadequate to meet most of the challenges out in the world, she accepts herself anyway and eventually dies--yet another Sendak take on big issues, though his books were mainly read by children. Beyond Jennie, his characters were often charmingly "headstrong, bossy, even obnoxious." Read: me as a child. I have always adored his characters. They were real, vivid, personalities living through odd, sometimes unhappy but always fascinating situations.

A decent biography can be found here. And a list I assembled of his writing & illustrations, here.

Perhaps some of the most popular links circulating yesterday were to Sendak's last interviews, with Stephen Colbert, which were both touching and hilarious: 

Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak, Part 1
Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak, Part 2
Then, yesterday Colbert released this: Uncensored Maurice Sendak Tribute from parts of the interview that didn't air previously. At the end, Stephen Colbert asks Sendak what the best thing is that parents can do for their kids. He responds, to love them. Colbert pushes and asks, "what does that mean?" 

Maurice Sendak responds, "take them for what they are."

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Uncensored - Maurice Sendak Tribute
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