Author and illustrator Maurice Sendak — who crafted so many of our childhoods with such books as Where The Wild Things Are, Outside Over There, and In The Night Kitchen — has passed away at the age of 83. Sendak's most recent book, 2011's Bumble-Ardy, began its life as a Sesame Street short.
The famously outspoken Sendak claimed that he was an author and not a children's author, full stop. And given his incredible capacity to depict the utterly fantastic and bizarre in a way that all ages could understand, we never questioned him. His candor and willingness to engage children on their own semi-chaotic terms will be missed. As the author admitted in 2004:
Oh, yes. We're animals. We're violent. We're criminal. We're not so far away from the gorillas and the apes, those beautiful creatures. So, of course. And then, we're supposed to be civilized. We're supposed to go to work every day. We're supposed to be nice to our friends and send Christmas cards to our parents.
We're supposed to do all these things which trouble us deeply because it's so against what we naturally would want to do. And if I've done anything, I've had kids express themselves as they are, impolitely, lovingly… they don't mean any harm. They just don't know what the right way is.
And as it turns out sometimes the so-called "right way" is utterly the wrong way. What a monstrous confusion [...] I'm not Hans Christian Andersen. Nobody's gonna make a statue in the park with a lot of scrambling kids climbing up me. I won't have it, okay?
In my household, it was his 1981 picture book Outside Over There that always got the most play, primarily because this gorgeous yarn about goblins abducting babies absolutely terrified (and simultaneously delighted) me and my pint-sized siblings. You can watch Sendak discuss his thoughts on life and death with director Spike Jonze in the above scene from the 2009 documentary Tell Them Anything You Want. You can also watch Sendak's thoughts on inspiration here, and his two-part interview with Stephen Colbert from earlier this year is the stuff of legend. [Via AP]