He sailed off through night and day

And in and out of weeks

And almost over a year,

until he came to where the wild things are. 

Renowned American author and illustrator Maurice Sendak passed away yesterday at the age of 83. In his honor I changed the program for storytime this morning and read the kids Where the Wild Things Are and One was Johnny. (The bird program can wait a week).

Where the Wild Things Are was a break-through children’s picture book, addressing the emotional life of a child in a way that had never been done before. It has  wonderful, memorable pictures and a perfect text. It is a pleasure to read aloud and easily memorized.

Here are a few lines from obituaries, collected by Leila of the blog Bookshelves of Doom:

The New York Times:

A largely self-taught illustrator, Mr. Sendak was at his finest a shtetl Blake, portraying a luminous world, at once lovely and dreadful, suspended between wakefulness and dreaming. In so doing, he was able to convey both the propulsive abandon and the pervasive melancholy of children’s interior lives.

The Guardian:

He was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Polish Jewish immigrant parents and was aware, in his early teens, of the death of much of his extended family in the Holocaust. The terrors of his childhood specifically, and childhood more generally, flow through his work. “I refuse to lie to children,” he said in an interview with the Guardian last year. “I refuse to cater to the bullshit of innocence.”

The Christian Science Monitor:

“So I write books that seem more suitable for children, and that’s OK with me. They are a better audience and tougher critics. Kids tell you what they think, not what they think they should think.”

Posted by Nancy, who has read Where the Wild Things Are aloud more times than any other book.