I woke up to see my twittersphere aghast at the passing of our darling Mr. Sendak. My twitter feed is alight with children’s authors galore, NPR listeners in droves, and elementary school librarians en masse, so when your idol dies, of course you hear about it, but… what do you say?
Little bear, that’s me. Let’s be honest, it’s probably you too. When I turn its worn and grubby pages, I can hear my mother’s voice. I can have the nicest conversation with her. We talk about trips to the moon and birthday soup and things I have always loved. How many permanent ties to the love you felt as a small child do you really have in this world?
Little bear was the beginning of Maurice Sendak’s career, he and Else Holmemund Minarik created a beautiful collection of I Can Read books, way before anyone thought a child could ever be left behind. I know that as a child the words of course mattered, they always matter, but OH the PICTURES.
I’d lay on my stomach on our 80s shag rug and study them for hours. You can just catch the humor in Mother Bear’s eye as she cradles her little bear fresh from a moon landing. I know that in my life I’ve focused all the better on perfecting my ability as a line artist, because Maurice Sendak could say so much with a pen and two colors.
He has given me more than words can say, so let’s move on, shall we? In times like these, at the passing of an idol, I ask….
I say the best we can do is remember him fondly, share him with the littles in our life, delight in the details or our lives and try to see the world as a child would want it shown to them. We can push ourselves to create things that will make a difference, but I think the greatest thing we can do to remember him is simply live our art.
“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.” ― Maurice Sendak
RIP Mr. Sendak, Let the Wild Rumpus Begin, wherever you are…