Farewell, Maurice Sendak.
Most people love Maurice Sendak for Where the Wild Things Are, and that’s cool. I was never an enormous fan of that book, even as a kid, but I get the appeal. There are monsters, there’s a cute little guy in a monster suit, there’s even a boat. What’s not to love?
Of course, a lot of Sendak’s work is a bit quirkier, or darker even, than that. My two favorite Sendak books are Outside Over There and In the Night Kitchen. You’re not going to find a lot of people arguing for the inclusion of either one of those in a preschool curriculum any time soon, yet I remember LOVING them well before I went to school. Maybe my mother has a secret dark side? I remember sitting in her lap, reading Outside Over There and not feeling one whit scared. The book features a kidnapping and baby goblins, for crying out loud! Just image how well-adjusted I might have been. (I should note that as an adult I do not like scary movies. It may be Maurice Sendak’s fault.)
When I started teaching I accidentally put a copy of In the Night Kitchen in my classroom library before I realized there was a naked little baby within the pages. My students had a field day with that. Fortunately, I wasn’t fired. In fact, no one even went home and told their parents, as far as I know. I thought about creating some clothes for the little guy out of construction paper, but took the coward’s pragmatic course of action and simply removed the book from our classroom library. Yep, I’m a censor. Who knew?
Sendak’s latest, and now last, book The Bumble-Ardy hasn’t made its way into our home yet. I’ll probably have to read it first and decide if it’s a must-buy. In the meantime, my two year old will stick to Little Bear, just to make sure Mr. Sendak and I don’t scar her for life.
Thanks for sharing your gifts with us, Mr. Sendak. You will be missed.