May 18, 2012

Farewell Maurice Sendak my old friend...

I was heartbroken to hear about the passing of Maurice Sendak on the same day that I was made Laureate. Maurice Sendak has alway been my picture book hero from when I was little and his books have been my constant inspiration and friends over the years. To me he was the most original book maker of the 20th century. 
I LOVED his characters and I truly believed in them. His characters are REAL they are headstrong, bossy, sometimes even obnoxious! His books were groundbreaking in the sixties because they were a departure from the normal safe sweet picture books. Children love them because they depict something they recoginise- being sent to bed without supper and true emotional battles. Sendak sometimes brought the reader to dark places, was unsentimental and he never NEVER underestimated his audience.
Maurice made me love books and I try to share that love in any way I can everyday. He was my biggest influence as a picture book maker and artist.  I make books about Hugglemonsters, Ravenous Beasts; my own 'Wild Things.' He inspired me to never underestimate my audience, to never patronise or speak down to children but also to have fun, to spread a little anarchy with my words and pictures. 
My favourite Sendak Quote is when he talked about when a little boy sent him a letter- 

‘Oh, there’s so many. Can I give you just one that I really like? It was from a little boy. He sent me a charming card with a little drawing. I loved it. I answer all my children's letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a postcard and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, "Dear Jim: I loved your card." Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, "Jim loved your card so much he ate it." That to me was one of the highest compliments I've ever received. He didn't care that it was an original drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.’

I highly recommend Terry Gross's collected interviews with Sendak on NPR  Her interviews with Sendak over the years show his passion and give wonderful insight into Sendak as an artist and as a unique human being. The last interview moved me to tears. 

1 comment:

Padhraig Nolan said...

Very cool story. I remember when Colm Tóibín opened the Illustrators Ireland exhibition in the Chester Beatty Museum back in 2002 - one of his comments was that the test of a good illustration was whether it was good enough to eat! Must have taken a leaf out of the Sendak Fanbook :-)

Have a Wild Rumpus!