Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An open letter to Maurice Sendak

Posted By on Tue, May 8, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Editor's note: Maurice Sendak, famed children's book author and illustrator, died today. He was 83. I have deep emotional ties to his work, so I decided to write an obituary. But during my research, I discovered that he didn't like the media - or much of anything, really. What he really loved were the letters children wrote him over the years. As a fan of his for more than 20, my letter is long overdue.

Dear Mr. Sendak,

I'm writing to you on the day you died, and I'm really sorry about that. I should have written to you years ago, when I still believed the monsters in "Where the Wild Things Are" were real and lived on a distant planet, like New York City.

I probably would have told you that I thought Max was really funny and one of my best friends (second only to Barbie). I would have told you that your monsters were scary and that I hated their yellow eyes, but none of that mattered because I still loved them with all my heart. I would have asked you to send me directions to the wild rumpus because it sounded like more fun than kindergarten. I probably would have told you that your name sounds funny and finished the letter with a crayon-scribbled "Ana" and, most likely, a drawing of my cat.

The original intent of this letter was to share some sappy story about how your work had a profound effect on my imagination. I wanted to talk about your successful career and personal life (even though you hated discussing both). I wanted to talk about the allegories, symbolism and metaphors in your work. Then I realized how boring being an adult is sometimes.

Thanks for all the books and for reminding the world not to take itself so seriously. That, I think, is all you ever wanted.


Check out Stephen Colbert's hilarious interview with Sendak here and The New York Times' obit here.

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