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Children's Literature Trail Blazer Passes Away

May 09, 2012

The world of children’s literature has lost an icon. Maurice Sendak, author of more than 20 children’s books, has passed away.

Sendak is most famous for Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen. He famously challenged notions about children’s themes and was criticized for his sometimes dark content. He was quoted as saying, "Children surviving childhood is my obsessive theme and my life's concern," to NPR in 1993.

For some, his message was somber or too realistic; for others, it was simply imaginative and unlike anything else.

Whether the world he created in Where the Wild Things Are was challenged or just challenging, I only recall the magic it brought to me and my younger sisters. It’s that magic I revisit with my nieces and nephews now.

It was a story so compelling and so transcendent that 46 years after its publication, Spike Jonze turned it into a feature film. I recall walking into the theater 3 years ago to see a children’s movie, sans child. My decision to do so was immediately vindicated by the pile of slouching adults I met, all there to enjoy the same return to their childhood.

Sendak was also an illustrator. Over the course of his 56-year career, he added his signature artwork to nearly 100 books. To say his style was unique would be an understatement. In truth, it stood out at a distance on any book display. His contributions to that world were every bit as impactful as those to the literary world.

His final book, Bumble-Ardy, was published just eight months ago, and it was fantastic.

Sendak died on the morning of May 8 from complications of a stroke. He was 83 years old. He will be missed by the all children who admired him…even those who never grew up, even with children of their own.

Thank you Maurice.

Andie P.
Claycomo Branch

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