Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, and Chicken Soup with Rice are some of the most playful, insightful, inspirational childrens books Ive ever read. When Maurice Sendak died earlier this month, it all came rushing back. The creatures in Where the Wild Things Are are both the most gentle and the most ferocious monsters of my dreams. Ive been Max: Let the wild rumpus start, his mother: you wild thing!, and those precious wild things themselves: Well eat you up, we love you so!
Maurice Sendak didnt write books to club children over the head with a life lesson; he wrote with joy and insight about what he saw, felt, and experienced. He played with language in a way that invited you to play along. Who doesnt love Oh my once, Oh my twice, Oh my Chicken Soup with Rice?
Sendak didnt do many book signings because he said it confused the children when he took their beloved books away and wrote in them. His favorite story involved a young fan who enjoyed the personal drawing Sendak sent him so much that he ate it. What a compliment!
In his recent interview with Fresh Airs Terry Gross on NPR, Maurice Sendak sounded like a lonely, wounded child when he talked about those hed loved and lost. He even expressed joy that he would die before the interviewer so he wouldnt have to mourn her too. His heart was raw from feeling for 83 years.
Maurice Sendak: Conventional? Nope.
A treasure? Absolutely.