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Art Spiegelman on Maurice Sendak

There’s a lot of talk of wild things around the office here, today, and talk of curdmudgeons and cantankerousness, love of animals and children. Maurice Sendak, who has passed away at age 83, had a notable effect on books, and people who love books, like us. A famously blunt, outspoken and excitable grump, he always seemed to like children better than adults and often expressed frustration at the perceived inability of other adults to understand kids. And given the popularity of his books among young people, he may have been on to something. He, along with select others like Roald Dahl, didn’t pull any punches with kids, wrote honestly and openly for them, and seemed able to really understand them on their own level, without any condescenscion or pretense.

Art Spiegelman, who himself has straddled the boundary between childrens’ books and adults’ books with his graphic novel about the holocaust, Maus, (a must-read if you’re not familiar), wrote and drew an account of a visit he had with Maurice Sendak at his home in Connecticut, which you can see at Blown Covers. In its pages (which are beautifully illustrated, whether Spiegelman is convinced he can draw, or not), Sendak talks about children, and why he knows children should be given more credit than they are, with illustrative memories from his own childhood: “I remember my own childhood vividly…I knew terrible things, but I mustn’t let adults know I knew…it would scare them.”

I’ve also been very much enjoying looking at some of the original drawings by Maurice Sendak that we have on the site, including this inscription to a young fan named David, complete with original art by Maurice Sendak, from 1964. It looks like Sendak used to be much more cheerful. An exclamation point and everything!

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