Maurice Sendak: A Wild Rumpus

June 10, 1928 – May 8, 2012

Maurice Sendak died yesterday. He was one of my favorite authors.

Where The Wild Things Are is my favorite picture book of all time. Anyone who’s read a bit of my blog knows that I love picture books despite being a teenager. Dr. Seuss’s books, Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and the Olivia books by Ian Falconer are all amazing, but Where The Wild Things Are is still the best and always will be. I want to write (and possibly illustrate) a picture book sometime during my life, and my main inspiration to do so comes from Where The Wild Things Are.

“The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind…”

You might be thinking, “Anyone can write a picture book. Why is Nevillegirl making such a big deal over one?” But I’ve discovered that is not true. At our library, I’ve picked up far too many picture books that looked interesting, and I was disappointed by many of them. Some were creative or funny or imaginative, but some were so dull that I didn’t bother to finish them, even though they were only 32 pages long.

“…and another….”

But Maurice Sendak knew how to write a good picture book. I love that Max isn’t the perfect little boy – most kids aren’t perfect. I love the illustrations. I love that even though the book probably has fewer than 100 words total, every word is perfect and just fits. If he hadn’t chosen the right words (“…sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks…”), it would still be an imaginative picture book. But I don’t think it would have grown to be a classic.

“…but Max stepped into his private boat and waved good-bye and sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day and into the night of his very own room where he found his supper waiting for him…”

I’ve read this book too many times to count. It is probably one of the most important books to me, after Harry Potter and a few others. It has influenced me: I call Neville a ‘wild thingie’, but Maurice Sendak was the original Wild Thing. In my Script Frenzy script, I had a scene where one character reads a picture book to another. You can guess what picture book it was. If you haven’t read Where The Wild Things Are, know that you have been living under a rock, then go to your library and borrow a copy to read right away. Better yet, buy a copy.

“…and it was still hot.”

So, when I heard that Maurice Sendak had died, I roared my terrible roar and gnashed my terrible teeth and rolled my terrible eyes and showed my terrible claws until my mother said, “BE STILL!” He was my inspiration. I hope you’re having a great time where the wild things are, Mr. Sendak!

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7 Responses to Maurice Sendak: A Wild Rumpus

  1. Liam, Head Phil says:

    Wild thing! You make my heart sing! You make everything… groovy. I know I liked this book a lot. Though, come to think of it, it does inspire rebellious behavior in children who are looking for a couple wild things.

  2. I love Where the Wild Things Are. And I’m really sad that he’s died. 😥

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