Maurice Sendak left us this week and in his wake many people came forth with stories about the man and his impact on them, some as colleagues, some as readers. It would be fooling to claim this as a “top five” but these are the ones that stood out for me this week.
Illustrator Paul Schmid did a fellowship with Sendak a few years back, and on his blog he recounts the last visit he made. The key to the man, and the visit, was his ability to cut to the chase. “She didn’t capitulate.”
Art Spielgelman, creator of Maus, spoke with Sendak back in 1993 about his book We Are All In the Dumps With Jack and Guy. “You can’t protect kids, they know everything.” (Catch this while you can, before The New Yorker locks up behind its pay wall again).
Scholar and author Phillip Nel remembers his contacts with Sendak while working on his dual biography of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss. “I feel as though Max was born in Rowayton, and that he was the love child of me, Ruth, and Dave.” Also: the birth of the rumpus.
Nel also gathered a collection of illustrators tributes to Sendak. Most of these are lovely, though I’m a little confused by Harry Bliss’s graveside tribute from children’s book characters who came before Sendak. Wouldn’t characters who benefitted from Sendak be more in his debt of gratitude?
And bookseller Sarah Rettger remembers Sendak the local who would visit her store. I am still curious to know if he ever bought a book, and I do mean ever. Could Sendak simply call a publisher and say “I’d like to see…” and like royalty he’d receive it by overnight express?
So that’s five. The plus-one is my own personal recollection of growing up alongside his new releases in the 60s and 70s, and one book in particular that spoke to me then and still does. It probably doesn’t merit being in the same company of the other posts above, but its my blog, so there.
Seems everyone had a favorite memory or story to share in tribute. Feel free to suggest your own in the comments.