Author and illustrator Maurice Sendak passed away yesterday at the age of 83. Where the Wild Things Are inspired generations of adults and children—maintaining a dark and mysterious tone while celebrating play and discovery. Sendak taught us to hug the monsters under the bed and not be afraid of the dark.
Mr. Sendak was recently on the Colbert Report in January full of energy and wit. He even endorsed Stephen’s first attempt at a children’s book, I Am a Pole (And So Can You!).
“I don’t write for children. I write, and somebody says, ‘that’s for children’.”
As a kid borrowing my sister’s copy of Where the Wild Things Are, I had little understanding of the book, but I knew it was special. She kept it right by her bed, even as she got older. There was a gold foil stamp on the cover: the Caldecott Medal, 1964 for the most distinguished picture book for children. The ink had started to rub away from the stamp; the cardboard corners of the hardcover were bent in slightly from banging against the shelf and dirt, highlighting the white at the very edge of the spine.
If there ever was a relic in our home with symbolic meaning to Kelsey and I, this book was it.
At seven or eight years old, I had trouble understanding how these trees were growing in Max’s room and how he had his own rowboat. I certainly had questions, but the seed was enough for me to process in dream time. There was, after all, a rowboat in my back yard, an acre of forest beyond that, and no shortage of outdoor adventure time back then, before I became preoccupied with computers and video games.
I really didn’t need to understand.
On my good days I was Max beating on huge rocks with sticks. On my lonely days I had imaginary friends in the woods. On my darkest days I imagined dragging that rowboat to the small pond where we used to ice skate, to make it to the small island in the middle.
While I sat on my top bunk, my reading place, Max and I traveled through time. The New England autumn provided the leaves to crush under my feet and the crisp air to make my breath visible. Outside I wore a green jacket with my hometown name on the back—the closest I came to to a wolf suit and crown.
In September 2011, HarperCollins published Bumble-Ardy, Sendak’s first book in 30 years, written and drawn by himself. This is the story of a pig who is turning nine and has never had a birthday party. Grabbing fate by the haunches, Ardy throws himself a masquerade party that quickly gets out of hand.
Now, a new generation can go to bed feeling special after relating to a pig, his aunt and his pals in the same way my sister and I hung out with Max.
I’m sure I’ll be heading to the bookstore to get Bumble-Ardy for my youngest niece, so she can follow Ardy like my sister and I followed Max, on adventures of the imagination… far away from TV and computer screens. But my birthday is also coming up. I’ll need a masquerade party. Do I go with wolf-boy or cowboy-pig? A meditative hike through my parents’ back woods might help me decide on that.
I’ll just need to find a nice walking stick.
BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE! CHECK OUT LEAGUEPODCAST.COM — BOSTON’S COMIC BOOK AND POP CULTURE PODCAST — “Thinking about Comics since 2009″!
Leedz Edutainment and LeaguePodcast present SPOSE and CAM MEEKINS at the MIDDLE EAST UPSTAIRS tonight!
Oddio Comic 38 — Defenders #34 — “I Think We’re All Bozos in this Book”
With our biggest cast ever, our rendition of Defenders #34, wherein Nebulon promises the world mind control if we just accept we’re all Bozo’s! Or as the Hulk puts it, “Magican and girl talk too much—Mix up Hulk’s head too!”