Friday, October 30, 2009

Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak is an author and illustrator who keeps popping up in my life. I grew up with In the Night Kitchen, and when I was in high school I went on a field trip to watch the Pacific Northwest Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker, for which Sendak designed the sets and costumes. I have read my daughter all of the Little Bear books, and the film version of his iconic book Where the Wild Things Are is currently playing at the theater.
So how fitting, how comfortable to pick up a beautiful tribute to Sendak, lush with his drawings and illustrations. Making Mischief: a Maurice Sendak appreciation is by another fantastical author, Gregory Maguire (Wicked). He has a talent for looking at Sendak's work and pulling out the inspirations, the common threads, the allusions. He understands the layers of fantasy and imagination that go into Sendak's illustrations and how inspiring those layers are to young minds.
The text in certain points reads like stream-of-consciousness (Maguire originally presented this appreciation as a slideshow at MIT, and you can easily imagine this as a narrative accompanying the warm hum of a slide projector in a darkened auditorium, with each new slide stirring a murmur of recognition and approval from the audience).
If you love Sendak, you will love this book. (A note to parents: not all of Sendak's illustrations have been for children's books, so be prepared for a little nudity and a passionate embrace).

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