Where the Wild Things Are

Just a couple of weeks ago, when the semester started, I was taking roll in one of my classes, trying to get to know students’ names, and came across a young woman with the last name of Sendak.  “Like the writer,” I said, to which she replied, “Huh?”

“You know,” I said, “the writer, Maurice Sendak?”

Blank stare.

Where the Wild Things Are?” I said.

“Oh!  Oh, yeah, that guy,” she said, and I let it drop after that.

Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are was one of my favorite books as a child.  I admired many of his others as a kid, too, but that was always my favorite.  To put on that wolf suit like Max does and venture into the world of fabulous monsters–oh, what I would have given to be able to do that in real life, not just in my imagination.  But I did get to do it through Max, as close as anyone could have brought me to that experience of magic as a child.  Sometimes, when someone asks me, “Who’s your favorite writer?” I’ll reply, “Maurice Sendak,” because he was my first.  Second is Dr. Seuss, whose stories opened up the possibilities and play of language for me.  But Sendak is first.

I’ve never written a children’s book, but it’s on my list of Dreams to Make Happen in Life, and my only hope is that, when I do write one, I’ll be able to make one that will transport children by mere words and pictures alone to another world, the way Sendak was able to do for me.

Today, reading the New York Times, I came across this article about him celebrating his eightieth birthday, and the very difficult past year he’s spent since the loss of his partner, and indeed the difficult life he has led.  Discovering the dreariness and darkness in his past, and indeed in his present, has made me admire his writing even more.  It takes a beautiful mind to make light in this often dark world, and he’s done that, whether he’s aware of it or not, and despite his feeling that he has yet to make something that will rouse a great passion in some reader one day.

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5 responses

  1. Aw! this warm my heart because so much of my kids’ childhood revolves around that book and his work. (Ask them about Pierre, they will tell you I DONT CARE) We were very cognizant of the WTWTA when naming our older one and he often gives the book to babies so his new friends can have a book about Max from their friend Max. This post made me feel happy. Thank you.

  2. モーリス・センダックの Where the Wild Things are  は 「かいじゅうたちのいるところ」

    日本(にほん)でも図書館(としょかん)にはかならずある、子(こ)どもたちに人気(にんき)の絵本(えほん)。

    何度(なんど)よみきかせをしたか!

  3. We have a copy of Where the Wild Things Are from Max! My girls also love this book–anything Maurice Sendak, really. I have Moshi (one of the monsters) on my key chain. Gwennie used to have a bear jacket that she insisted on wearing all of the time, and we used to say “Gwennie put on her bear suit and made mischief of one kind or another.” Great post. Now I’m off to read the article.

  4. There was an interview with Sendak on one of the NPR programs, not too long ago. I can’t seem to find it–Google is only pulling up older ones–but it was–really touching, and encouraging, in the way that sometimes bittersweet things are. Made me feel a little more human, for the time that I was listening to it, and a while afterwards.

    I’m glad he’s around.

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