Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!
Maurice Sendak (1928-2012) was the author and illustrator of one of the most wonderful picture books of all time, Where the Wild Things Are (1963). The book has been redone in an animated short, an opera, and a full length film. It won the Caldecott Medal in 1964, and was voted the number one picture book in a School Library Journal survey 48 years later, in 2012. The 338 word story tells about Max, who dresses in a wolf costume and gets into trouble and sent to his room. His room mysteriously transforms into a forest where the Wild Things are. He becomes their king.
It was initially banned from libraries and received negative reviews. Perhaps it was the utter delight that drew children to it and made them want to read that changed their minds?
In researching this post, I came across a quote from the author that made me smile.
“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.” 🙂
Mr. Sendak decided he wanted to be an illustrator when he was twelve and say Disney’s Fantasia for the first time. He became a prolific illustrator and writer. He was also on the Board of Advisors during the developmental stages of Sesame Street. He designed sets for operas and ballets, and worked with theater productions in Chicago and Boston.
Other books by Mr. Sendak include In the Night Kitchen (1970). In it a young boy is dreaming that he is floating in a magical world called “Night Kitchen” where he falls into a pot of batter. Three bakers arrive and begin to prepare it for baking unaware that there is a child in it. It is a dream sequence depicted in Sendak’s magical illustrations. This book was met with a lot of controversy due to the child’s nudity.As a result it is still listed as one of the ALA’s 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000.
Mr. Sendak illustrated one of my favorite series – The Little Bear books by Else Holmelund Minarik.
He won the Hans Christian Andersen Award for children’s book illustration in 1970, The Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for American children’s literature in 1983, the National Medal of Arts in 1996 and The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children’s literature in 2003. He was inducted into the New York Writers Hall of Fame in 2013.