Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Maurice Sendak: A tribute

When I awoke to the sad news this morning of Maurice Sendak's passing, I started thinking about my life-long love of children's books. Having only been an artist for 5 years (read here for the story of how I became an artist ) I am still unsure whether I would be more successful marketing my work towards children vs. adults. I suppose I just think my work is for everybody.

I was  lucky enough to see a video of Maurice Sendak interviewed by Steven Colbert earlier this year, and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed it! Maurice Sedak was so unlike any preconceived notions you might have of a children's book author, and he even admitted that he just made art, it was others who decided it was for children. If you haven't had the chance to see this interview, I highly suggest you Google it!

When I was little, children's literature was a huge part of my life (thanks Mom and Dad!) Recalling the vivid illustrations in books like a Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and Miffy at the Beach by Dick Bruna immediately transport me back to the wonder of childhood - when everything was delightful, magical, and new! And Maurice Sendak holds a very special place too. I know that most people immediately associate him with Where the Wild Things Are, but for me, his greatest achievement was the story of Pierre. I had the picture book as well as the accompanying 45 record sung by Carole King. On one side was Chicken Soup with Rice, but I loved Pierre - I had the book and sang along repeatedly countless times. A few weeks ago on the way back from the grocery store, my husband and I came across Carole King singing Pierre on the radio (our usual radio station does an hourly kid's program every evening.) Much to my husband's delight (or horror - not sure) I am still, almost 35 years later, able to sing along with Carole King's interpretation of Maurice Sendak's words with perfect accuracy!

Unfortunately my copy of the book Pierre didn't survive my childhood, along with the other countless treasured items that became lost, donated, or just disappeared into the ether. But I do have one Maurice Sendak book left. It is one of my prized possessions - a little tiny book of illustrations accompanying letters of the alphabet called Alligators All Around. 

It's a bit worn looking, it's jacket long gone, but I look at it occasionally and am immediately taken back to my early years.

Making it even more special is my attempt to write my name and address in this book when I clearly had not mastered those skills yet! I am guessing I did this around 1973. I also wrote it in the book upside down.

So, goodbye Maurice Sendak. Thanking for making my world and countless others a little (or a lot) brighter.


  1. Oh my gosh! I hadn't heard about his passing! I saw his interview with Stephen Colbert and he was just delightful. He will be missed.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the Colbert interview too - wasn't it great!

  2. I work at a major book chain and have had a love of kids lit for my whole life. I was sad to hear had passed but feel so fortunate to live in a world where his art exists.

  3. I am saddened by his passing, recently bought his book for my new Grandsons. Our local chain children's book section was dominated by celebrity authors... I had to go to the Eric Carle Museum to find a selection of children's books that I loved reading to my children. Very sad indeed!