Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wild Things at 80

Maurice Sendak celebrated his 80th birthday on June 10th, this year. Few living authors or illustrators have had a longer, or richer career. In 1963 he published Where the Wild Things Are, a masterpiece of childhood nightmare and fantasy. Regularly decried, even withdrawn from libraries and banned, this classic has not always been admired by self-appointed moralists and overly protective parents, but, like all Sendak's work for children, it continues to be loved and immediately accepted by little persons.

In the Night Kitchen, my favorite children's book of of the the past 50 years, followed in 1970. Like it's predecessor, this book has frequently been banned by various bluestockings, convinced, I suppose, that any suggestion that little boys occasionally remove their clothes entirely is an idea so shocking as to require immediate suppression.

The delightful dream of floating through a fabulous kitchen, populated with series of cheerful Oliver Hardy chefs baking wonderful things, seems to me still an almost perfect idea of joy.

Sendack celebrated his 80th birthday in the company of many admirers and friends, including playwright Tony Kushner, Meryl Streep, Judy Blume, and film director Spike Jonze, who showed clips from his upcoming live-action adaptation of Wild Things.

Sadly absent from the celebration was Sendack's late life-partner of 50 years, Eugene Glynn, who died last year.

You can listen to a conversation with Sendak from 2005, at the NPR site.

Or check out the PBS "American Masters" documentary about him, if you want to know more.

Meanwhile, I'm sure all our customers join us in wishing the amazing Mr. Sendak a very Happy 80th Birthday. And many more.

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