12 May 2012

On to the Wild Rumpus In the Sky

Maurice Sendak died this week.  We pulled Where the Wild Things Are out of the book bin to read Tuesday night after hearing about his death earlier that day.  We had not read it in a while as Isaac works on his own reading and requests chapter books most nights when we read to him.  But Tuesday evening was sad for a couple of reasons and Sendak's classic fit the mood perfectly.

The classic story of childhood mischief and search for acceptance and security is one that resonates through the ages and will remain a childhood staple.  It has been dramatized, surprisingly well, and mass-marketed, but it has not lost its impact.  The text seems simple but it speaks to people of all ages, at every stage of life.

Shortly after his death, articles about his life appeared, remembrances were broadcast on talk shows, classic interviews were posted, and Facebook statuses were updated with quotes from his book.  I thought back on my own association with his work, mostly connected to his most well known book -- the times I have read it aloud to classes and the lessons that have accompanied it, reading it to Isaac since he was an infant, making Isaac's wolf costume so he could be Max on Halloween when he was a toddler, seeing the movie and reflecting on how the meaning of the story shifts as a person's world view expands.

The remembrances are important.  Sendak is an important author/illustrator in the history of children's literature.  But when I told Isaac that Sendak had died as we prepared to read Where the Wild Things Are the other night, I couldn't help but wonder how many other families might be doing that same thing in other houses across the country.  It seemed like the most fitting remembrance of the day.

1 comment:

  1. All day long I heard this quote...I thought I would get tired of hearing it but, somehow, I didn't...

    “Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”
    ― Maurice Sendak