Maurice Sendak fans shared this morning their most vivid memories of reading Sendak, and how his work molded their lives and is passed onto their children. Below are a few excerpts from readers' appreciations that were published on Yahoo! News.
Maurice Sendak taught us how to look for monsters: "I was a timid child with a wild imagination. I was scared of the dark and of monsters. I slept in a large brown foreboding iron bed that was a castoff from my grandparents' house. I would peek through the bars of the footboard and pretend it was a cage protecting me from the scary unknown. The monsters of Maurice Sendak's imagination kept me ever vigilant of what might lurk beyond my bed.
"My son now sleeps in my childhood bed. We often look through the bars for monsters because Maurice Sendak showed us how special it is to see monsters." -- Cate Cook
Thank you, Maurice Sendak, for speaking up for characters and readers: "When the movie version of 'Where the Wild Things Are' came out in 2009, many questioned whether the film would be appropriate for children. When told some parents think the film is too scary, the Guardian says Sendak replied, 'I would tell them to go to hell. Or wet your pants. Do whatever you like. But it's not a question that can be answered.'
"Somehow, I find this endearing. Like the man himself, his books are not politically correct or sanitized. The plots involve strong emotions, anger, defiance, kidnapping, parents disappearing and monsters and lions who are ready to eat you up! Thank you, Mr. Sendak, for saying, 'I don't care!' and trusting children enough to not water down your work. You sparked imaginations, sometimes ignited nightmares, but never bored us with mediocrity." -- Sylvie Branch
Maurice Sendak's death: a teacher's view: "As a high school teacher who works with struggling readers, I often hear from teenage students that the last book they read -- and liked -- was 'Where the Wild Things Are.' Yes, Sendak's book about the inventive power of ornery children appeals to kids' growing sense of individuality. But for many of the students with whom I work, 'Where the Wild Things Are' was the last book they remember that met them where they were, in terms of both reading and life." -- S. Alexander Cooke
Appreciating Maurice Sendak: Were children really his target audience?: "It seems that Sendak wasn't necessarily writing to kids. He was equally targeting the adults who provided the laps and literacy upon which children absorbed his work. Sendak gave us adults back the ability to remember how real and important fantasies can seem, and to appreciate the wandering and wild imaginations of the kids in our arms.
"I continue to secretly sneak his books from my daughter's shelf, seeking the portal into the world of childhood and knowing that my daughter, who misbehaves and breaks rules in the name of pretend, will eventually grow weary of the place where the wild things are." -- Juniper Russo
Maurice Sendak saw kids as people, too: "Sendak was so much more than one book. My favorite work was actually 'Really Rosie,' an animated film he wrote and directed about a girl who wanted to make a movie. Even now, I can remember his lyrics to 'Alligators all Around,' 'Chicken Soup with Rice,' 'Pierre,' and, of course, the song 'Really Rosie,' all performed by Carole King.
"Mr. Sendak, our wild rumpus may be over, there may be no more roaring terrible roars or gnashing terrible teeth, but we have not lost you. We will have you, always, between the pages of your glorious books." -- Isa-Lee Wolf
Sendak's 'Wild Things': Scary, but not scary enough to put down: "When I was 4, my grandmother gave me a gift set of Sendak's books called the Nutshell Library. It was a four-volume boxed set that contained mini versions of the books 'Alligators All Around,' 'One Was Johnny,' 'Pierre,' and 'Chicken Soup with Rice.' While I loved 'Pierre' and his cautionary tale, I'll never forget learning my months with the sing-songy 'Chicken Soup With Rice.' It was always my favorite, and I still own a copy today.
"Even in my adulthood I came across Sendak classics that I had missed out on as a kid. 'In the Night Kitchen' -- a gorgeously illustrated account of after-hours baking -- became a new favorite when I read it to my own children. While it has been deemed controversial by the American Library Association, let's just call it my favorite frequently challenged book of all time." -- Victoria Leigh Miller
Maurice Sendak gave us something to dream about: "I suggested to my son that maybe children's authors live a long life because of the way they see the world. My son thinks that a sense of peace and purpose is the reason. Sendak gave my children something to dream about. He gave me something to dream about, too. After I read 'Where the Wild Things Are' to my children, I always wanted to go paint trees on the walls of my room.
"The world is just a bit less magical with the passing of Maurice Sendak." -- Elizabeth Danu
'Where the Wild Things Are' continues to thrill imaginations: "In his room, Max in his wolf costume sails to an island of Wild Things, where he confronts, conquers and dances with the dangerous beasts. What fun! But here's the brilliant catch: Max gets lonely and bored and decides to go back home, where he finds his supper waiting, still hot.
"What a lovely idea to be able to escape life's frustration on an island of Wild Things and still be able to return home safe and sound." -- Lori Huck
Remembering Maurice Sendak -- a connection to the past, present and future: "If you were going to construct the Mount Rushmore of children's book authors, Maurice Sendak's visage would have to be included alongside Theodore 'Dr. Seuss' Geisel and Shel Silverstein.
"Waking up the sad news that Sendak had passed on to join Dr. Seuss and Silverstein, it struck me that that he had helped provide an integral link between my life and my children's lives. That's what happens when you create timeless works of art; they resonate across generational lines." -- James Schlarmann
"Sendak's illustration models for the title character, his family and friends like Duck, Cat, Emily and even the interminably irritating Mitzi the chimp contain his usual mixture of soft edges within the hard lines of reality. The combination of Sendak's portraiture that is unusually complex for daytime children's programming, the hypnotic musical score that easily brings sleep to a tiring toddler and the hysterically funny humor that permeates the show made 'Maurice Sendak's Little Bear' as solid and indefatigable a part of the memory of my son's childhood for both himself and for me as any other element from that period." -- Timothy Sexton
Maurice Sendak taught me to revel in my imagination: "After my own children were born, they quickly fell in love with Sendak's illustrations in 'Little Bear' and that mischievous bear became a regular part of our daily lives. When my son was 3 years old, his grandmother bought him a talking Little Bear. It had a small voice box in it and my son loved the story of 'Little Bear' and his own Little Bear so much that he took it everywhere -- even into the bathtub. Little Bear no longer talked after that but the books and cartoon continued to be a beloved favorite in our home long after the stuffed bear became silent." -- Tammy Lee Morris
Maurice Sendak provided sanctuary, escape: " 'Where the Wild Things Are' was much more than a childhood story to me. Though I didn't know it as a child, this was one of the first children's books to so obviously incorporate the reality of inner demons with the escape of fantasy. It was my first real experience with bringing a book to life in my mind. As an adult, it serves as a constant reminder that we all have 'wild things' inside of us." -- Kathy Foust
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