I admit I didn't read Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are until I was 27 when the movie came out, but Little Bear and Chicken Soup with Rice? Oh I loved reading all about their curious adventures when I was a child. In fact, I still remember borrowing the Really Rosie VHS tape from my library and playing it over and over until I learned the lyrics to all the songs. Now with the news that the Brooklyn-born author/illustrator passed away Tuesday at the age of 83, I've been taking a nostalgic trip through those fun songs and stories of my childhood. (Skip to 5:30 in the video below to listen to "Chicken Soup with Rice.") Funny how I still know the words to these tunes. Some things just never leave you, I guess.
In an interview with NPR in September 2011, Sendak talked about his work, children's literature, life, and loss:
"I’m not unhappy about becoming old . . .[it's] what must be. I only cry when I see my friends go before me. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I do expect to see my brother again . . . like a dream life . . . but I am in love with the world. I look right now out the window of my studio--I see my trees, these beautiful beautiful maples. It is a blessing to get old, to find the time to do the things, to read the books, to listen to the music. I don’t think I’m rationalizing . . . this is all inevitable, I have no control over it. The wondrous feeling of coming into my own—it took a very long time. You could be talking to a crazy person."
"I have heart trouble. I’m very sick. I have nothing but praise now really for my life. . . I’m not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more. I’m in a very soft mood, you gather, because new people have died. It’s what I dread more than my isolation. . . . [young people] if they only knew how little I know. Oh, God, there are so many beautiful things in the world that I will have to leave when I die, but I am ready, I am ready, I am ready."
"Although certainly I’ll go before you’ll go, so I won’t have to miss you. But I will cry my way all the way to the grave. . . . I wish you all good things. Live your life, live your life, live your life."
P.S. You have to watch Stephen Colbert's interview with Sendak (part 1 and part 2) from this January and Colbert's attempt to create a children's book of his own!
Image: lizlambson.com and tuesdaysatten.blogspot.com