I was reading through my Google Reader this morning, and came across the news that Maurice Sendak had died. I made one of those little noises, that "Oh!" of combined horror, sadness, and disbelief. Here's his obit at the New York Times.
Now, the NYT doesn't exactly have a shining track record as far as children's and YA book coverage goes, but I have to give them props for this lovely obit, which acknowledges Sendak as a picture-book creator that both defined and stood outside the genre.
Even now, Sendak's books have teeth that you don't often find in the picture-book shelves. They're a little sharp, a little hard-edged, a little dangerous, and the kids love them, because their world is not the soft and fuzzy baby-ducks-and-mama-bunnies that we often get in 32 pages with illustrations. Their world is full of uncertainties, new people, desperately dangerous situations. (You try being two feet tall and encountering a 180-lb dog, even a nice one. That's some George-and-the-Dragon stuff right there.) And the kids themselves aren't docile cherubs.
He wrote a small-form picture book called Alligators All Around. A child's world is full of alligators. Sendak knew that. And he sent his heroes out into the alligators, and they beat them. They even romped with them.
We'll miss you.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
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