Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Final Bedtime Story

Oh God there are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die... but I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready.
- Maurice Sendak

World renowned children's book author Maurice Sendak has passed away at the age of 83 following complications from a stroke. Most famous for his fabulous book Where the Wild Things Are, it is with great sadness that Sendak - known as the Picasso of children's books - has left the literary scene. Sendak authored and illustrated over 50 children's books in his career, and won countless awards, including the Hans Christian Andersen Award for children's book illustration in 1970, the Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are and the National Medal for the Arts (awarded by Bill Clinton in 1996).

Sendak marvellously at work in a clip he illustrated and wrote for Sesame Street in the 70s. 

A sickly child, Sendak spent much of his childhood indoors reading books and honing his craft as an illustrator. Following a stint as a window dresser at FAO Schwartz in NYC, Sendak became a professional illustrator. He also worked as a costume and stage designer for operas - so he was well established in the arts scene. 

But Sendak's real achievements lay in his children's literature. According to the New York Times, Sendak "wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitised world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche." 

Where the Wild Things Are has sold over 19 million copies worldwide and the story reached a whole new audience when it was made into a movie in 2009 (as we know - I was a tad obsessed, and saw it countless times, with great pleasure!).

In his later years Sendak revealed he was gay. Following the death of his partner of 50 years and other friends, the man known for his unsentimental writing had grown especially reflective, describing himself as a "happy old man" but someone who would "cry all the way to the grave".
"I cry a lot because I miss people. I cry a lot because they die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more," he said.
"And since I don't believe in another world, in another life, when they die they're out of my life, they're gone forever." [Please note, if you can track down the audio of this quote - I heard it on the radio this morning - he says all of this through sobs. It is so touching and so sad - yet lovely.]
Bumble-Ardy, the first book in three decades in which he did both illustrations and text, was released in September by HarperCollins Publishers.

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