Thursday, May 10, 2012

Maurice Sendak 1928-2012

cover of bookThirty years ago I wrote a love letter. Not to my husband, but to Maurice Sendak. At the time several of my favorite authors had died and I began to wish I had told them how much I loved their work and how much it meant to me personally and as a children’s librarian and storyteller.
Almost all parents know Where the Wild Things Are, but he wrote many other tales such as In the Night Kitchen,
It did not take long to write the letter which I remember began with: “I love your stories and illustrations, they are magical.” And then I added much more words of love for his work how children in my library and my son loved them.
I did not expect to hear from him, I had just wanted to let him know he was a beloved author. About 6 weeks later came a small, greeting card sized envelope with my name and address written in a small script. He writer had used a fountain pen. The return address was Connecticut.
Almost holding my breath I carefully opened the note card. On the cover were Wild Things devouring books under a tree. The tree had a heart carved on it and the letters J S + M S.
Opening the card I found a hand written note that began, ”Dear Pat, What took you so long to write to me?”
A year or so later he was booked at the University of Colorado’s Children’s Author festival. I wrote him that I planned on being there and hoped to meet him. The organizer of the program basically said ho-hum and no to my request when I asked what his schedule was so that I could meet him. Probably thought I was a stalker or groupie.
So I staked out the area where he would be autographing books and discreetly kept out of the way. I was not the first in line, but when it was my turn to get autographed books (yes, I had purchased about everything and brought a couple of special first editions from home), he asked to whom it should be autographed. I gave him my name and he put down his pen, stood up and embraced me. He wanted to know how far had I driven, how were things at my library and other mundane catch-up questions. Not wanting to hold up the line too long, with the Conference Director scowling at us, he said, “Why don’t you join my table for lunch. I am sure the Director can squeeze in one more place.” It was an amazing lunch, just to be in his ken, listening to him talk so lovingly about his books as if they were children, some mischievous and some good.
I shared how I would tell his story of Pierre in story times and make Pierre’s “I don’t care” answers very naughty and bold. Of course at the end of the story when Pierre was saved from the lion he said, “I care.” Sendak cared about children, truth-telling, books and what books could do to enhance a child’s life.
That says it all about Maurice Sendak. He cared.

PCH at Main


NMPatricia said...

What an awesome tail. Individuals such as Maurice Sendak are rare. Thank you for sharing.

NMPatricia said...

What an awesome story. Thank so very much for sharing. What an honor to have met him. And what an extraordinary person he must have been.

kate nelson said...

What a beautiful memory; tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing it.

Anima Sharma said...

Wow really nice information, beautiful memory. Thanks you for sharing...

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