Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Celebrating the Life of Maurice Sendak #RIPMauriceSendak

I forgot to post yesterday. Completely and utterly forgot.

But it's not a big deal. Not really. Not when you wake up and realize the world is mourning the passing of a hero.

I didn't truly grow up reading Maurice Sendak's books. I do remember "Where the Wild Things Are," and the Little Bear books, (and of course the television show) but his style of artwork wasn't something I was drawn to, not as a child. As a kid I loved Care Bears and Rainbow Bright and Disney and all those other trademarked characters. Those books took me far away from my parent's divorce, from my fear of abandonment, and my extreme fear of the ultimate of all loneliness, Death.

But then I grew up and decided I wanted to make children's books, because when I'm drawing fun and childish things, I am happiest. Still in my imaginary world and still so far away from those shadows. So I read a gazillion books on the topic of children's books- on the history, on the making-of, on conversations-with, on the artists and the writers. And the actual books themselves, of course. And everywhere I looked, I found Maurice Sendak.

When I first started taking CE classes at RISD for children's book illustrating, and writing, there he was again. Prime example of whatever topic we happened to be on, every teacher had their beaten up copy of "Where the Wild Things Are" with them on most days. And they taught me how to see a book the way Sendak saw it.

That's when I learned to understand that childhood isn't always clouds and rainbows and glamorized fairy tales. For many of us, when we take off our blinders and truly look at our childhood, we realize it's just a miniaturized world of real life. That was something Sendak understood. Kids have to deal with a lot of crap, with a lot of shadows, and they do it all on their own.

And that carries onto adulthood, too.

I wish I had had the opportunity to hear him speak. Or to have a book signed by him. Or to have even just glimpsed him at one of the conferences. (Maybe I did, too, and I didn't even know it.) Or to have realized how important his way of thinking was, while he was still alive. But maybe I wouldn't have fully appreciated it until right now.

I never knew how much I shared one of his biggest obsessions until today, after reading and watching interviews and all the other articles that are coming out of the archives. It's silly of me to ever think I'm alone in my fears, but it's so taboo to express them. To let everyone see that side of ourselves. The side that loses control when the shadows come creeping and runs to the bathroom and sobs in the shower.

Sendak figured it out. And he used his art to help him do it. He learned in life what he needed to learn in order to understand those shadows, and to even take the biggest one by the hand when he was ripe and ready to do so.

Thank you, Mr. Sendak, for paving the way. Your words give me the faith that everything will work out in its own little way. Your art opened the way to allow more creativity, more boldness, more truth into the world. Your honesty gives us courage to be ourselves and live life the way we best know how.

Of all the stories you wrote and illustrated, your life's story is my favorite.

What We're Saying on Facebook:
"Rest in peace, Maurice, love from your pal Pee-wee."
"Dear Maurice, "And it was still hot" was a beacon of hope and the promise of something good and comforting at the end of the adventure for millions of children, including me. I hope you are enjoying a hot dinner."
"Lessons of honesty and integrity will be taken and applied, Mr. Sendak. Happy travels to the next adventure."
"We have his books. Hard to imagine children's lit without him. But we have his books. That's my mantra." -Jane Yolen
"‎"Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!" - Mr. Sendak is off on an adventure, flying in a plane made of dough. Heading to a place with endless bowls of chicken soup with rice. I won't be sad today. I will gnash my terrible teeth and I will show my terrible claws. I will think about the fire that burned in that man's belly- and let it in to my own."
"Don't rest in peace, give em hell!!! ;')"
"And now, let the wild rumpus start!"
"A life to celebrate. He leaves the earth- and we can feel it. All we can say is "whoa""

Interviews & More:

A Favorite Tribute Site: http://www.terribleyelloweyes.com/

Touching Tributes:

Some Humor, and Truth:
Christopher Walken Reading "Where the Wild Things Are"

Some Quotes:

“Dear Mr. Sendak,” read one, from an 8-year-old boy. “How much does it cost to get to where the wild things are? If it is not expensive, my sister and I would like to spend the summer there.”
‎"The children know. They have always known. But we choose to think otherwise: it hurts to know the children know. If we obfuscate, they will not see. Thus we conspire to keep them from knowing and seeing. And if we insist, then the children, to please us, will make believe they do not know, they do not see. They are remarkable--patient, loving, and all-forgiving." -- Maurice Sendak

On His Death (some good links are found within the articles):

And a Call for Submissions: Celebrating Sendak


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