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Maurice Sendak Memorial

June 13, 2012

Maurice Sendak died on May 8th. The world of children’s literature felt the loss deeply. Yesterday the community of writers, artists, editors, art directors, teachers and librarians gathered at the Metropolitan  Museum of Art to say a final farewell.  Every seat in the hall was filled as we waited for the service to begin. There was a discordant celebratory atmosphere as old friends from various publishing houses were reacquainted with each other as well as a younger generation being introduced to Sendak’s art directors, editor and publishers.  One teacher noted that when she was young she never understood the smiles of relatives at a funeral but now understands how we can be gladdened by the stories that are told of the one who has left us.

The service began with edited pieces from Tell Them Anything You Want, a documentary directed by Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze.  Sendak’s struggle with depression was known outside his intimate circle and this  was evident in the clips chosen, but there was also love and hope in his commentary.  I was struck by one particular point when Sendak faced the camera and proclaimed (excuse my paraphrasing here) – If you have work you do well, work you know you do well and you do that work well….. that is happiness.

It was clear that the joy he attained during his life came from his partner Eugene, his friends, his work, and his dogs.

– Lisa Von Drasek

(School Library Journal and Monica Edinger have both posted wonderful, thorough pieces on the memorial)

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