May 8, 2012

Maurice Sendak Dies at 83

(Photo Credit)
My three favorite authors as a child were Shel Silverstein, Bill Peet, and Maurice Sendak. Bill Peet showed me whimsy and silliness, Shel Silverstein showed me true love and dark comedy. Maurice Sendak showed me longing and heart. Though many of his books shaped my childhood education, it’s no surprise that my favorite Sendak book was Where the Wild Things Are, a tale that was about growing up and accepting responsibility as well as
enjoying childhood and embracing innocence. It’s a book that has stayed with me long after my first, second, or event hundredth reading. The language is simple, the meaning is deep – rooted in the fears that children know very well and adults don’t often think about.

(Photo Credit)
Sendak’s writing style was humorous and melancholic, and he allowed his beautiful illustrations to tell as much of the story as his well-chosen words. I don’t pretend to know much about his life or his family, and I have no claim to grief. Yet, here I am, grieving. In the few interviews I’ve seen of Mr. Sendak, he has come off as an acerbically witty person with as much pain as humor. And he’s delightfully mean. Which, given the way he plumbed the depths of the human psyche and examined our desires and trepidations so accurately, is no great surprise. This was a man with a lot of weight on his shoulders.

Today, we’ve lost an American legend. Today, we’ve lost a childhood friend.
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