I often use Facebook to find things to write about. It has been an active week for my friends, and I have twenty-two open tabs with articles from everywhere – Cracked.com to the New York Times. I also have a post to write on Yoda, and a post to finish on gratitude (a list of fifty things minus the big fifteen I listed in my Meta-Gratitude post). I also want to write on a new thriller I am reading.
All of that has to wait.
Maurice Sendak has died.
I knew he was old. I knew he was in ill health. His frailty was obvious in the interview he did with Stephen Colbert earlier this year.
His brilliant wit was also well in evidence. I am so glad that Colbert gave us a chance to see the tamer of the Wild Things, the architect of the Night Kitchen.
I once gave a therapist who was leaving to go on maternity leave a copy of Where the Wild Things Are. I told her that every shrink's kid needed a copy of this book. I was speaking tongue-in-cheek, of course. I didn't really mean it.
I really think that everybody's child needs a copy of it. No matter what their age.
Sendak was somewhat scornful of the devotion that Where the Wild Things Are has elicited. I tend to think that that was because he was never a parent.
WTWTA was my favorite children's book. It still is. Partly it is what it seems to say: it conveys the “there are people who love you, there is a home for you” message in a way that is not cloying or seriously creepy. (As much as I adore Shel Silverstein's poetry and songs, The Giving Tree is not a healthy book. Even more disturbing is The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, who also wrote Goodnight Moon.) More than that, the cadence of his prose was both simple and lyrical. It was elegantly straightforward.
In a world where your child may get hooked on a book and not want you to read anything else, reading Sendak's beautiful prose and showing off his pictures that managed to be whimsical without being cutesy is a blessing. This is not true if you are stuck reading Are You My Mother? Even Fox in Sox and Horton Hears a Who pale after a while.
So here's to you, Maurice. At the risk of echoing a sentimentality which you would no doubt scorn, I hope that wherever your spirit is, a wild rumpus is going on.
You deserve no less.