Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Remembering Maurice Sendak: "Where the Wild Things Are"

Maurice Sendak, renowned children's author and illustrator passed away today. In just ten sentences, Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are entertained countless children and also helped them cope with darker, even neglected, parts of a child's psyche.

I never met Maurice Sendak but I had the pleasure of witnessing every one of my students develop a love of his books. I watched children draw their own monsters, either laughing, using their imaginations, or helping them cope with their fears or situations. I saw children internalize, understand, and learn through Sendak's words and illustrations.

 Where the Wild Things Are powerfully demonstrates that art, imagination and daydreaming allow children to turn traumatic moments into vehicles for survival and growth. Two of Sendak’s other children’s books, In the Night Kitchen and Outside Over There, also focus on child rage and emotional unavailability of a mother. 
 



Sendak described his childhood as a "terrible situation" because of his extended family's dying in the Holocaust, which exposed him at an early age to death and the concept of mortality. His love of books began at an early age when he developed health problems and was confined to his bed. He decided to become an illustrator after viewing Walt Disney's film Fantasia at the age of twelve.

Winner of the 1964 Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are, in 1970 Sendak became the first American illustrator to receive the international Hans Christian Andersen Award. In 1983, he received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association, also given for his entire body of work. In 1997, Sendak received the National Medal of Arts from President Clinton. In 2003 he received the first Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, an international prize for children's literature established by the Swedish government. 



Beginning in 1952, with A Hole Is to Dig by Ruth Krauss, Sendak's illustrations have enhanced many texts by other writers, including the Little Bear books and The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm. Dear Mili, Sendak's interpretation of a newly discovered tale by Wilhelm Grimm, was published to extraordinary acclaim in 1988.


Sendak both wrote and illustrated The Nutshell Library (1962), Higglety Pigglety Pop! (1967), In the Night Kitchen (1970), Outside Over There (1981), and We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy (1993). He also illustrated Swine Lake (1999), Brundibar (2003), Bears (2005) and, Mommy? (2006), his first pop-up book.


Sendak created "Seven Little Monsters," a children's television series that showed the not-so-little monsters learning about life. He also helped create and write the Nick Jr. show "Little Bear."

Sendak designed the sets and costumes for highly regarded productions of Mozart's The Magic Flute and Idomeneo, Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen, Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges, and Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker




Today, a great author, unique illustrator and true artist passed away.  For more than forty years, the books Maurice Sendak wrote and illustrated have nurtured children and adults alike, but also challenged established ideas about what children's literature is and should be.  I'm sure many future generations will enjoy and benefit from Sendak's brilliance. His classic story of Max and those monsters who "roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth" will continue to span time and influence generation after generation. He will be missed.

21 comments:

  1. I didn't hear this until now. What a sad occasion!

    Blessings,

    Jessica Stanford
    Mrs. Stanford's Class Blog
    My TpT Store

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    1. Yes, I had no idea he had accomplished so much. What a fascinating man.

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  2. Maurice Sendak has influenced so many children. he was so great at taking trauma and fears and using the fantasy of childhood to work through things. He was a truth teller and not just someone who made up stories. I love this quote from him:
    “I said anything I wanted because I don't believe in children I don't believe in childhood. I don't believe that there's a demarcation. 'Oh you mustn't tell them that. You mustn't tell them that.' You tell them anything you want. Just tell them if it's true. If it's true you tell them.”
    So important to tell them the truth!
    Libby Williamson
    MsWsWonders.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you Katie. I know your children will love his books.

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  4. Very nicely done. The students surely lived the books. Carolyn

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    1. Carolyn - thank you so much. I didn't realize how much he had accomplished - a true artist.

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  6. I love Little Bear and his other stories as well. I had no idea he'd passed--he will be missed. Lovely tribute.

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    1. I had no idea either until yesterday how much he had accomplished. Amazing artist.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this. 'Where the wild things are' is an absolute timeless classic. My husband read it to our daughter tonight.

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  8. Yes, I was searching for children's books on Amazon yesterday and saw a tribute to him. What an amazing artist.

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  9. This is a beautiful tribute to one of our favorite authors and illustrators. He has left so many treasures for us to share with our children.

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    1. Thank you Heather. I'm enjoying your blog too. Have a wonderful Mother's Day!

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  10. So many things I didn't know about him! I love this post!

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    1. Thank you Lorie - following you on Goggle+ - still trying to figure it out (lol).

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  11. What a wonderful tribute. I will be pinning this to my children's lit board. I'm looking forward to following your blog!

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  12. Thank you Bethany! I really love your blog about children's literature. Wonderfully done. Thanks for visiting.

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  13. thinking back, i'm not sure that i've actually ever read "Where the Wild Things Are". i may have to check that out at our next library visit. thanks so much for creating such a marvelous tribute to a renowned author. and for linking it up :)

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  14. Such an informative post about Sendak. I learned lots about him. Thanks for linking up to Book Sharing Monday.

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