May 08, 2012
Posted By: Joey Panek
There are certain iconic moments from our childhoods that may not cross our minds on a regular basis, but the sudden passing of their creators will bring them right back to the forefront. I felt that way when Jim Henson died, and now I add Maurice Sendak to the list of gone but not forgotten.
Where the Wild Things Are was like the Holy Grail of children's books. Teachers eagerly pushed the book on us, as it encouraged the use of imagination. As little Max is left alone in his room, the walls become forests and he's led through an overnight journey, all while in his wolf pajamas.
A 2009 movie adaptation may be identifiable to younger audiences, but most of us stay true to the original book and this 1973 video version.
You might also remember Sendak's Chicken Soup with Rice.
The book follows a round-faced little boy as he eats the title soup every month of the year. It may not have been much on plot, but I coveted this book from our local library. It's possible my parents paid for the book twelve times over in overdue fines.
Another well-known book of his that never made it to my list was 1970's In the Night Kitchen. It's similar to Where the Wild Things Are in that it features a child's dream journey-- this time in a night journey through a baker's kitchen as he prepares a big cake.
The book was considered controversial by some due to the main character being naked through much of the story. (Stuffy Americans!)
More recently, Sendak was interviewed in a hysterical interview by Stephen Colbert. Check out Part One below.
Sendak passed away today, due to complications from a recent stroke. He may be gone but his compelling storytelling will stay with us.
What is your favorite Sendak story?