The world is awash in memories of Maurice Sendak, and I’m so pleased that my colleague here at Messiah College, Anita Voelker, has a new editorial on her views of Sendak that just came out on the Fox News web site. Anita is a wonderful teacher and a specialist in children’s lit. An excerpt from her article:
It is that time spent with you becoming one with the book that has me mourning Maurice Sendak. He was the miracle maker who could turn you into savvy kings or horrible ogres and still bring you back in time for a hot supper.
Truth be known, Maurice Sendak allowed me to tame my unseen Wild Things.
Sendak would have appreciated knowing he fed my grown-up spirit along side yours. He resented when his books were pigeon-holed for only children.
So, today I call upon you and your now grown-up friends from childhood to honor Sendak by grabbing a copy of “Where the Wild Things Are” and reading it out loud.
I’ve hesitated to add my own thought about Sendak’s passing to what seems like it could only be called The Great Outpouring, but I’ve been really touched and amazed at the broad and cross generational appreciation that Sendak’s death is generating. Everyone from my 17 year old son to my 30 year old former students to my fifty and sixty year old colleagues felt a little sad today, and a lot happy at having lived in a world in which Maurice Sendak lived.
My personal memory of Sendak will always be of the public library in Durham North Carolina. I was an impoverished grad student with a wife and a two year old daughter. Having next to nothing, we got our entertainment at free festivals in the park, tours of the art museum at Duke, and books and records checked out from the library downtown. For a good long time we didn’t have a TV and claimed to not want one as a way of staving off having to admit the fact that we couldn’t have afforded one if we had wanted it. Maurice Sendak was was a favorite of my daughter Devon, and week after week we would check out Sendak. The Night Kitchen was a special favorite. We were not really all that aware Night Kitchen was and still is on one of the most banned book lists. I will say my mother was appalled that we read our daughter a book that allowed her to giggle and point repeatedly at a little boys genital. Ah Well. I’m sure we’ve done worse things to her in our parental lives than that.
Sometimes still, 20 years later, in fits of want and desire I will cry out Milk! Milk! Milk for the morning cake. And I will remember Durham. And Maurice Sendak. And smile.