Friday, February 15, 2013

One Was Maurice

Maurice Sendak with his German shepherd, Herman in 2005.
Photograph by Mariana Cook.

In my ongoing quest to catch up on New Yorkers, I recently came across an article about one of my favorite children’s book authors; Maurice Sendak. Mr. Sendak is best known for his classic Where the Wild Things Are but I thought I’d share three of my favorite slightly less famous Sendak treasures as a belated tribute.

I bought Outside Over There from a used bookstore in Raleigh, NC when I was in college. I didn’t have children but I immediately adored it. The story is whimsical and sweet and full of family love and devotion. Not to mention beautiful. Although I couldn’t know at the time, my future little family would fall in love with it as completely as I did.
When I gave In the Night Kitchen to my younger brother as a Christmas gift almost fifteen years ago, my mom was pretty dubious because of the little naked boy running through the story. But even then, I thought it was so charming and special. I love the image of the boy floating through the kitchen at night. It is so dreamlike and visually striking at the same time that I still regret not keeping that book for myself.
This one is a cheat because it is four teeny books in one set: The Nutshell Library consists of Pierre: A Cautionary Tale, One Was Johnny: A Counting Book, Alligators All Around: An Alphabet, and Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months. I found this when I was a new mother and although my daughter couldn’t read (or even roll over), it seemed perfect for our family. I love how Mr. Sendak merged his quirky and distinctive sense of humor with traditional children’s subjects (alphabets, counting) and created something original and hilarious.

 I never wrote to Maurice Sendak to express my appreciation for his work and I think I’ll always wish that I had. But luckily, I still have his books and I can continue to enjoy them with my kids on an almost daily basis. This, I suppose, is the best way to show my admiration anyway. I hope you’ve read all these before but if not, now you’ve got an easy, beautiful weekend project all set up for you, courtesy of Swings and Arrows.
Happy Weekend!

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