Thursday, 10 May 2012

5 Reasons to love Maurice Sendak

Acclaimed children's author Maurice Sendak passed away this week so we are posting the Top 5 for Friday a day early this week.  Annie from Central Library provided us with this post in his memory. 

“I have nothing now but praise for my life. I'm not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more. ... What I dread is the isolation. ... There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready."

We were all a bit shell shocked and sad on Wednesday with the news that Maurice Sendak had died, aged 83. [New York Times link]

For me, it was a shock, but not unexpected. I’ve listened to a 2011 radio interview – where Sendak was an old man, ready to die, and sharing his regrets, joys, and sadness. The quote above is from that interview.  You can listen to the full interview at: the NPR books website but have your tissues ready.

This was the last of three interviews on the station – you can listen to them all by clicking here.

How many of us grew up with Where the wild things are? If that was the only thing Sendak ever published, his place in literary history – and our hearts – would have been secure. But he didn’t rest on his laurels.

Here is my list of my favourite 5 Maurice Sendak books:

5.
Brundibar
Retold by Tony Kuschner, illustrated by Sendak. Based on the 1938-39 Czech opera by Hans Krasa and Adolf Hoffmeister, and performed by the children of Terezin. This multi-layered story offers many readings – including a look at life at the beginning of the Holocaust. Many of the characters wear yellow Star of Davids, Brundibar looks similar to Hitler. A tale of hope, against a backdrop of tyranny.

4.
Written by Else Holmelund Minarik, it was Sendak’s illustrations that endured this series of beginner readers to generations of children, beginning to stretch their reading muscles.

3.
Mummy? art by Maurice Sendak; scenario by Arthur Yorinks; paper engineering by Matthew Reinhart].
A glorious pop-up book, featuring some very recognizable monsters. There’s a very classic Frankenstein’s bride and a Lon Chaney-style werewolf. Spectacular paper engineering, too.
There’s a great interview to check out here

2.
Hard to believe how controversial this number was. Yes, it featured full-frontal nudity! Oh, and complete rebellion! What’s not to love about this one. Yes, and it features baking.

1.
Where the wild things are?
Let the wild rumpus start! In primers, my class made life-sized wild things, using many textures and techniques, including collage with fake fur. Somehow I ended up with my group’s wild thing, which hung with pride on the wall outside my bedroom door – protecting me from monsters. I’ve had a soft spot for the book and the wild things ever since. (But am still recovering from the trauma of the movie.)

2 comments:

tosca said...

For the rest of this week I shall ROAR MY TERRIBLE ROAR. I listened to the interview earlier this year and had it playing in the background while I worked and was sobbing by the end. Luckily my colleagues are used to me emoting all over the place. Thank you for this post.

Danielle said...

Here's my find: a wonderful, musical, scary little animation of In the Night Kitchen, courtesy of the fantastic Open Culture site:
http://www.openculture.com/2012/05/maurice_sendaks_surreal_and_controversial_story_in_the_night_kitchen_animated.html