Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hail the King of Wild Things

An 8 year old boy wrote:
"Dear Mr. Sendak, 
How much does it cost to get to where the wild things are? If it is not expensive, my sister and I would like to spend the summer there".                            

Earlier this year my son Santiago made the drawing above from memory. It was one of those rare moments that stick with you because I remember the visual impact the Wild Things made on me as a child. My very first painting in college was of monsters hiding in the woods and it still hangs in my sister's room, a tribute to my hero. He was the first author/illustrator who inspired me deeply. When I heard the news of his passing this morning I closed up my studio and chose to wander around all day like Max.
Like Antonio Gaudi or Frida Kahlo, Maurice Sendak was a frail child who dealt with one illness after another. His world was filled with terrors like World War II, the Depression and the Holocaust and many of his close relatives perished. He grew up poor, Jewish and gay wanting to make his parents happy. Spending many hours in bed, the one thing he really loved to do was draw.
His drawings and stories brought authentic magic into this world. Take time to listen this wonderful NPR Interview on Fresh Air. His melancholy was tempered by a serious dose of jovial exuberance. This genuine man was the true stuff of legends. He was a mentor to so many aspiring illustrators and writers not to mention decades of children who identify with his timeless tales and unforgettable characters. His extraordinary books are listed here.

I can only guess that when Maurice arrived the angels blew their horns loudly and shouted "Let the wild rumpus start!"


  1. Lovely post in tribute. Made me teary. Thank you for posting the Fresh Air interview. I'm going to listen.