Friday, May 11, 2012

In memory of Maurice Sendak

I was planning on blogging about it yesterday, but a broken finger changed my plans.  I'm also typing with 9 fingers instead of 10 -- and the broken finger happens to be the most frequently used finger in typing, the left middle finger, controlling the E, D, and C, possibly the most common letters in the English language -- so posting is taking a little longer than usual.

But back to the point of the post: I was saddened to read a couple of days ago that Maurice Sendak, possibly one of the most beloved children's picture book authors, passed away.  He was 83, so he wasn't young by any means -- but I hadn't actually realized how old he was, not knowing much about him.

NPR has done a number of stories on Sendak in the last few days, as have the other news sources.  I didn't realize that he had such a dark childhood, as this story discusses -- he was the son of Polish Jews who immigrated to America, and he grew up during the Holocaust.  If that isn't enough to darken a childhood, I don't know what is.

Although Where the Wild Things Are is one of my favorite picture books of all time, I didn't realize that a lot of kids are scared of it -- and a lot of parents complain about Sendak's books being too scary.  I also did not realize that some of his other books are controversial as well -- In the Night Kitchen depicts the main character in the nude, and Outside Over There is about a girl who has to rescue her baby sister from the goblins that kidnap her (sounds like the inspiration for Labyrinth, to me).

Controversial or not, Sendak was a wonderful children's author and illustrator who had a huge impact on the genre, and I was sad to hear of his death!

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