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Maurice Sendak (1928-2012)

May 8, 2012

Sendak was a contemporary of Bank Streeters Irma Black and Ruth Krauss. He designed this award seal in honor of his dear friend Irma. We will always remember him as a dancing child as in this self-portrait with Irma and his dog Jennie.

The children’s literature community is bereft today hearing of Maurice Sendak’s death.  When we think of Sendak, our immediate thoughts go to his ground-breaking Caldecott winning title Where the Wild Things Are.  Sendak smashed the perception of childhood as a time of pleasantness, a time of unicorns and rainbows, sweetness and light.  He appalled the “gate keepers” of the time. Too scary they said.

His work was pioneering in that he allowed his characters to explore big feelings and frightening circumstances all in the context of a 32 page picture book. Although his work sometimes harkens a darkness, it is his joyful sketches reflecting everyday childhood that most resonate with me, his marching parade of children across the pages of A Hole is to Dig or iconic neighborhood kids of The Nutshell Library. His simple line expresses the joy and sensuality reflecting the inner and outer realities of children’s lives.

– Lisa Von Drasek, Director, The Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature

See my EarlyWord post for links to Maurice being Maurice on The Colbert Report and Fresh Air.

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