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A salute to Maurice Sendak

May 11, 2012

…who died this week. ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ will surely live for as long as there are picture books. I think it hasn’t aged in the fifty years since it first appeared. It still looks – and sounds – edgy, alternative and distinctive. In a very few, understated words it evokes a strange adventure, an emotional journey, and a dark, wild place of the soul that readers of all ages ‘get’.  What a gift.

I have sometimes tried to write picture books about kids’ rage or anger, but WTWTA always says it better.  And the ‘it’ that it says, is so grounded and wise. I bought my copy when I first started writing for children, and for me, it is still a masterclass in picture book writing. (I wonder what books other people feel this way about?) Anyway,  I take off my scribbler’s hat to Maurice Sendak. He may have gone into the night of his very own room, but what he leaves behind is still hot.

Marion Rose

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2012 5:49 pm

    Maurice Sendak has never quite done it for me, though I fully acknowledge the power of WTWTA. I think it’s because I’m well aware that it would have given me nightmares as a child.

  2. May 11, 2012 6:23 pm

    I’m glad somebody decided to mention this – I too love that book.

  3. May 13, 2012 1:08 pm

    So many people love and have loved “Where the Wild Things are”. I seem to remember reading that it was turned down by many publishers before Maurice Sendak could get it published. If that is correct it is fortunate that he persisted.

    I was interested to read that you, Marion, have been trying to write a book on the subject of anger. There is something that I keep trying to write – that is a story about an adopted child. As the mother of two adopted children, I have some experience. I may have to start an entirely new story, but I shall persist. Writers need persistence!

    • May 13, 2012 1:48 pm

      If you mean the story that we heard at the group, then yes, you should definitely persist. I thought it had a very strong storyline – I like it a lot.

      On the subject of anger, I thought Anne Cottringer dealt with it well in one of her earlier books, Ella and the Naughty Lion.

  4. May 18, 2012 1:21 pm

    I love the Maurice Sendak book ‘Outside Over there’ it has a surprisingly dark undertone that I think is true of all great fairytales. I think many children respond positively to an element of danger in a story and likewise the discussion of difficult topics. Although, of course, what is scary/difficult for one might be child’s play to another. I for one was very scared of the black rabbit in Watership Down as a child and had a toy ET that I kept locked in a cupboard because it freaked me out – However I would regularly dare myself to tiptoe to the door, open it a crack and peer inside!

  5. nikki permalink
    May 19, 2012 1:55 pm

    … I was always more likely to shut myself inside the cupboard to be safe from the ‘nasties out there’ as a small child. The dark was somehow comforting. Have to say though, I never realised WTWTA was about rage. Thought Max was going on a scary trip and made it home in time for tea, safe from the outside world, but it sounds like his inside world was more scary.
    Maybe Max would like the inside of cupboards too…

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