Maurice Sendak, the author of such cherish children's books as "Where the Wild Things Are", "Higglety Pigglety Pop!", and "In the Night Kitchen", passed away on Tuesday due to complications from a recent stroke. He was 83. Sendak is widely credited for making illustrated books for kids a lot darker and more intense than their predecessors, elements which helped the author find a foothold in an industry that, at the time, wasn't quite ready for such progressive changes in books marketed towards children.
Although his work caused quite a stir when it was originally published, nowadays Sendak's books widely read by kids all over the world. In 1996, President Bill Clinton awarded the author the National Medal of the Arts for his literary contributions. In addition to writing children's books, Sendak was also an accomplished artist. In addition to designing Pacific Northwest Ballet's production of "Nutcracker", he multi-talented artist also helped create a series of animated television programs based on his illustrations.
In 2009, writer/director Spike Jonze attempted a seemingly impossible mission: to adapt "Where the Wild Things Are" into a live-action feature-length motion picture. In order to prepare Jonze for the task at-hand, Sendak told the director to not sugarcoat the childhood experience for audiences. Growing up can be a cold, cruel, and scary place, a theme which is evident in a lot of the author's child-oriented work.
"I write books as an old man, but in this country you have to be categorized, and I guess a little boy swimming in the nude in a bowl of milk can't be called an adult book," Sendak told The Associated Press back in 2003. "So I write books that seem more suitable for children, and that's OK with me. They are a better audience and tougher critics. Kids tell you what they think, not what they think they should think."
In September 2011, HarperCollins, published "Bumble-Ardy", Sendak's first fully-illustrated book in nearly 30 years. The story follows the adventures of an orphaned big who decides to throw himself a birthday party. However, in true Sendak fashion, the book begins with the aforementioned pig's parents being eaten. Life in this author's world, it would seem, is always slightly shrouded in darkness.
"There's a cruelty to childhood, there's an anger. And I did not want to reduce Max to the trite image of the good little boy that you find in too many books," he told the AP in 2009. Although he speaking about "Where the Wild Things Are" at the time, he used this philosophy in nearly all of his creations.
Maurice Sendak's work enriched my childhood, inspired me to become a writer, and helped introduce me to the everyday horrors of the real world. You can sample some Twitter reactions to the news by checking out the posts below.
For more information regarding Mr. Sendak's passing, pay a visit to Famous Dead.
"There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready."—Maurice Sendak
#RIP Maurice Sendak“I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more.”
RIP, Maurice Sendak. How many of us have read, "Where the Wild Things Are" to our kids? My son's favorite line: Let the wild rumpus start!
Couldn't have raised my kids w/o Maurice Sendak. "Wild Things" gave us a way to talk about everything, especially the hard stuff.