I may or may not have nearly lost it when I heard yesterday that Maurice Sendak had died. I blame the pregnancy, but I blame the pregnancy every time I cry. I woke up that morning to hear Micah reading Where the Wild Things Are to the boys. And then, at lunchtime I read the news that Mr. Sendak is no longer with us.
I (nearly) cried because Sendak has been such a part of our family, as much as any other author is. “I’ll eat you up I love you so!” are frequently uttered words at our house. We regularly sing about how every season of the year is nice when eating chicken soup with rice. (We sing about it . . . but we don’t practice it. The boys aren’t too keen on soup of any kind, despite my best efforts.) Alligators All Around and One Was Johnny have been on heavy rotation as Squish has become more interested in learning his alphabet and numbers. Manchild has had Pierre – from prologue to moral– memorized for months. And today Squish asked me why Pierre didn’t care.
There was also a time, a few years ago, that Bears, a book he illustrated but didn’t write, was a favorite of Manchild’s. And how could I forget that one of my sisters insisted on being called “Little Bear” after the protagonist in the Little Bear series, also illustrated by Mr. Sendak? Or that I never got to examine Where the Wild Things Are closely enough as a child because it was always being read by someone else, and was never on the library shelves long enough for me to check it out? (That injustice has since been corrected and I am pretty sure that if I had to pick one illustrator whose artwork would line the walls of my children’s room, it would be Sendak.)
And so I thank you, Mr. Sendak, for your contribution to society, and to my childhood, and to my children’s childhoods. I appreciate it.