Maurice Sendak died May 8, silencing one of the most inventive, delightful, ornery voices of the last American century. His artistic endeavors in a 50-year career ranged from illustration to opera, though the work that made him a legend was a 48-page book about a boy in wolf pajamas entitled “Where the Wild Things Are.” I’ve told the story of my introduction to his work before. I hope you’ll indulge me telling it once more in his memory.
I spent entire summers of my childhood at the county library, curled up in the stacks, reading books not intended for children. The children’s section was of no interest to me. I read “Not Without My Daughter” at age 10. I had to look up what an IUD was in the World Book Encyclopedia. I was horrified and fascinated.
But, much to my surprise, a monster drew me in. He was bull-like creature, catching a little shuteye under a red palm tree. Despite my disdain of children’s literature, I occasionally picked up a copy with interesting illustrations, and this intrigued me. The dark, lightly grotesque images didn’t fit my image of kid lit.