Happy birthday Maurice Sendak, born June 10, 1928. Writing about the author of Where The Wild Things Are (1963) editor Anita Silvey said, “Today we celebrate someone who might best be described as the grandfather of the American picture book.” No other artist/writer has had as profound an impact on the way we think about and experience children’s illustrated books.
If you ever paid a visit to the Book Beat, you might notice a small stack of Sendak’s Nutshell Library books piled up on the front counter by the register. In print since 1962, The Nutshell Library contains four hardcover books contained in a decorative slipcase made for small hands, a delightful introduction to reading. The four books are; Alligators All Around, Chicken Soup with Rice, One Was Johnny, and Pierre. Each book is an early experiential reader, bringing a child into contact with the world through the alphabet, counting, and the months of a year. The last book Pierre: A Cautionary Tale is about an uncaring thoughtless boy, who is rescued by his parents after a lion eats him. Sendak uses language and rhythms centered within the scope and understanding of a child. The moral of Pierre is to care.
When Sendak died in 2012, he left a legacy of outstanding books that will be read, loved, and rediscovered for generations to come. Less is certain of Sendak’s personal life and the large collection of rare books and manuscripts he amassed. Before he died, Sendak formed The Maurice Sendak Foundation to one day present his collection to the public. Now being constructed outside Ridgefield, Connecticut, is an archive building attached to the house Sendak lived in since the 1970s. There is also talk of a Sendak museum to be raised in the center of Ridgefield.
It may be a long way off before Sendak’s wishes are fulfilled, as the New York Times reported; “The Sendak Foundation, which gives grants to artists and numerous other causes, is now defending itself in probate court in an action brought by the Rosenbach, which contends that some of Mr. Sendak’s rare books promised in his will to the library — by William Blake and Beatrix Potter, editions worth millions of dollars — are being withheld.” But things are looking “Really Rosie” now as a settlement between the Foundation and the Rosenbach Library was finally made, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer .
In this short film, Martha Stewart Interviews Sendak, and they discuss his writing and some of his favorite inspirational books.