I was so saddened to learn this morning that Maurice Sendak has passed away.
In a sky full of authors and illustrators, Maurice Sendak would undoubtedly be the north star. His picturebooks changed the face of children’s literature, revealing that childhood is not just a time of lighthearted innocence, but something much more complicated. He elevated the picturebook format, proving that the picturebook is an important art form in which complex psychological and social issues are explored. He is truly an icon in the world of children’s literature.
In a post today over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, blogger Julie Danielson shared a quotation from an interview Sendak did with Horn Book editor Roger Sutton in 2003. Maurice Sendak discussed death saying,
[D]eath is a comfort because that’s what saves you. Suffering, cancer, some horrible disease, I’m terrified of pain. Death will just take you away from that. So what’s to be afraid of? It’s a cessation of pain. What more could you ask? It’s like the good nurse. … I think the most graceful thing offered us is sleep without dreams. That is so sensible.
Sleep well, Mr. Sendak. And thank you. You will be missed!
This obituary in the Washington Post features some insights from the director of my Children’s Literature program.
And if you haven’t seen it yet, please check out this hilarious interview Sendak did with Stephen Colbert. He tells it like it is!