When the folks at Wilde City Press asked me to participate in their Gay History Month celebration, I was eager to get involved. Throughout October, different authors and bloggers are each featuring a different person or event. So today I am going to share a little bit about one of the most famous and influential children’s authors, Maurice Sendak.
Like many of you, I have been a voracious reader since childhood. Books have always been my thing and I have sought comfort and adventure in their pages as long as I can remember. But even for those who have not been lifelong readers, Maurice Sendak’s books hold a place in so many people’s heart. So he seemed to be the perfect person to highlight here in a blog that celebrates a love of books.
According to a New York Times article published last year upon his death, Maurice Sendak is “widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche.” Sendak wrote and illustrated many children’s books, but the one that I think is most well known is Where the Wild Things Are. As the article notes, this was not a traditional children’s book of the time. Max is sent to bed without supper. Monsters come and lure him away while he is supposed to be safely asleep in his nursery. He has a wild adventure, but we also see that there is a world out there outside the safe confines of his home and family. The book struck such a chord with me, and with many who have read it. I still get a little thrill as I imagine Max in his homemade crown and holding his sword, ready to fight and frolic with the monsters.
According to the same article, Sendak was born in Brooklyn on June 10, 1968. He died last year and was survived by his long time companion Eugene Glynn. The article gives fascinating detail into Sendak’s background and early childhood, describing how various events on his life impacted his writing and illustrating. It is a great piece and I definitely encourage you to read it if you are interested in finding out more.