“Hey,” my husband said from the next room, “Maurice Sendak died.”
I burst into tears. Even as I write this, I can’t stop crying.
Like so many, Where the Wild Things Are is my favorite picture book and has been since I was a kid. But it’s more than that. Few people are as influential on my work as Maurice Sendak is.
Many years ago, I had the opportunity to work on an adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. Through almost all of the project, I didn’t have any interaction with Sendak himself, but it was a labor of love for everyone involved. When the project finally made its way in front of Maurice Sendak, he was happy with the animation but did not like our narration at all. Too soft. Too safe. On one unforgettable day, I found myself on a conference call with Maurice Sendak. Regarding children, he growled:
You gotta scare the shit out of them.
That comment planted itself like a seed in my brain, and a forest grew. While I haven’t fully gone over to the scare-the-shit-out-of-kids camp, I’ve grown to question our collective desire to make media overly safe, overly explained, and overly familiar for kids. I think everyone needs a little bit of Maurice Sendak ringing in their ears.
Maurice Sendak, my words and my tears cannot adequately express how much I’m going to miss having you around.