Thanks for the rumpus, Maurice Sendak

Trying to find words to express how I feel about the death of Maurice Sendak. Huge gift to my life. Huge gift to my kids' lives.

Where the Wild Thing Are was the very first book I bought with my own money. It was 1968. I earned $5 singing at the Bike-o-Rama and spent $2 on a paperback of this book I'd stared at for hours in the public library. I was thrilled to have my own copy and drew my own illustrations in most of the white spaces. I think Mr. Sendak would have approved of this.

Over the years, I staged several versions of WTWTA with various children's theatre troupes and after school arts programs. Always a big hit, as it required each child to make his/her own wild thing costume from trash bags, construction paper, yarn, egg cartons, etc. Also required: wild rumpasing. The kids had a lot of fun, and the parents had rich home movie fodder.

When I was working on Sugarland, I took a trompe l'oeil class, and painted my pantry door for practice, recreating scenes from In the Night Kitchen, which had recently caused a huge argument between me and another PTO mommy at my kids' school because of the little boy's penis. My kids adored that book and insisted I steal the pantry door right off the hinges when we moved out of that house.

Maurice Sendak's influence on my life and art is mostly subliminal, but very strong. He was brave and unique in a way that called on each of us to know our own bravery and uniqueness.

I'm just so glad to have shared my world with this wildly wonderful artist and so grateful that he shared his world with me.


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