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Rembering Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak, illustrator and author of many wonderful children’s books passed away yesterday.  This is a loss I feel deeply, for Sendak’s work was not only a part of my childhood, but also a part of my children’s childhood.  As a child I was fascinated with the boy who stole away in a ship of his own making, whose room had been covered in vines and trees.  As a mother, I loved showing my claws and gnashing my teeth with my children.

While Sendak was clearly a marvelous illustrator, what I treasure most about his work, was his irreverence for social norms and his willingness to embrace the freedom of a child’s imagination.  His characters all seem a bit tousled, like they had just had so much fun on the playground or just climbed out of bed.  They get in trouble and take on monsters.  They eat chicken soup and rice, every day of the week, and curl up in their grandmother’s lap after coming back from space.  Sendak used his pen to awaken our dreams and inspire us to be ourselves. His characters seemed to embody their thoughts and emotions  so fully that they are still clearly imprinted upon our minds and hearts.

We shall miss you Maurice.  Thank you for inspiring us to howl at the moon, dance with kings, and make soup with friends. Thank you for creating memories for parents and children that shall forever be cherished. Thank you for encouraging us to step more fully into our creative, imaginative and wonderful selves.

Shalom & Namaste

Diana Bonyhadi

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4 Responses

  1. Beautifully written Diana. I too loved his writing as a child and shared it happily and joyfully with my son when he was small. Note to self..must go find “Where the Wild Things Are” so I can read it in honor of its author.

  2. very fitting response to an amazing author and illustrator. his imagination escaped the boundaries and he let us into his world via books. i’ve used his work numerous times in the last 30 years of teaching….having the kids act out Where the Wild Things Are….followed up with multiple art lessons…his spirt will carry on and my own kids have been inspired. thanks for acknowledging his work!

  3. Such a lovely and through prokoking (and memory provoking!) post, Diana. Thank you!!

  4. From Ben Bonyhadi:
    This is delightful and rings really true. Finding the real world – its harshest realities and most transcendent surrealities – through children’s literature was definitely made easier by Sendak’s awareness of the wisdom of children. That children, so bright and unjaded that every injustice is earthshaking in what it reveals to them about the world, should be mollycoddled and misguided by literature was intolerable to Sendak. He said in an interview: “I refuse to lie to children, I refuse to cater to the bullshit of innocence.”
    Granted, and thankfully, he realized that children supplement the world they are learning with ones they create and that the process of experiencing living is the attempt to balance and integrate internal fantasies with external systems of knowledge. He wasn’t without whimsy in approaching this: “He would occasionally respond to letters from fans with original illustrations, and was famously delighted by a letter he received from the mother of a child who had received such a letter; according to Sendak, the child loved his drawing so much that he ate it, and that was the best compliment that he possibly could have gotten.”

    My favorite illustrations by Sendak remain to this day those accompanying DeJong’s “The Wheel on the School.”

    Sources: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/may/08/maurice-sendak-wild-things-dies-83

    http://jezebel.com/5908523/maurice-sendak-had-little-tolerance-for-bullshit-and-other-fond-memories/

    8 hours ago · Like

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