Maurice Sendak died last night at the age of 83. His legacy is well-known: as an artist and a writer, he broke through the traditional paradigms of children’s literature with truth and honesty, embracing the dark visceral edges of dreams and monsters. His books were never sugarcoated— children have to plumb the depths of their personal resourcefulness in order to successfully survive. Childhood is not sweetness and light but sometimes nerve-wracking and stressful.
And his writing is buoyant, his imagery vibrantly articulate. “Let the wild rumpus start!” unleashed an exuberant animated interaction with his words and pictures, where the reading literally came alive for IB, where he vividly remembers physically and imaginatively “tromping around.”
Sendak was a lovable curmudgeon who did not suffer fools very well. Though he said in a 1993 interview with NPR that “Children surviving childhood is my obsessive theme and my life’s concern,” he claimed he didn’t write children’s books. He just wrote. I know he was right, because his audience includes adults still trying to survive their own childhoods, who find empowerment in his stories and images.
(The short video below is worth watching.)Vodpod videos no longer available.