Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Remembering Maurice

My two kids were born in the 60s, just in time for the Maurice Sendak books.  When I read this morning of his death, I emailed the young ones:
Just curious: did you like his books as well as I did?  They of course came on line just in time for your childhood, so you and I were seeing them for the first time together. What are your recollections?
I haven't received a specific response from either but I see that each of them has subbed out his/her Facebook profile pic with a Sendak illustration: the son's is, I think, Max from Where the Wild Things Are; the daughter's is from Chicken Soup with Rice.  Meanwhile the daughter-in-law, a guru among Montessori teachers, weighs in with a measured response:
Where the Wild Things Are really captures that bursting-into-bloom imagination that is characteristic of the development we note in Montessori as happening about five / six...Max is younger, though, I think.  I found the book a little scary for younger children.  There might be monsters in their heads, but we don't need to dwell on that yet...we can better serve them by giving them the real world (that's the party line, but I also think it's true).  The self-awareness necessary to truly love and identify with Max doesn't really come on line until five or six.

As a book for parents, however, it rocks. 

 And my sister, a seasoned veteran of the Kindergarten classroom, adds:
Yes, I loved the books but often wondered if they might be a little intense for my age kids, kindergarten, did read them some times but tried to balance with some softer types in between times.   A little the way I felt about Chris Van Allsburg, although his illustrations weren't quite so intensely scary but his stories were pretty often kind of creepy for real little kids,  but did read them sometimes to kindergartners and then wondered if I just wasn't reading them  for me!  Maybe that is partly why you read Sendak.  But those illustrations of Sendak are like no other, they are wonderful!  Sorry he is gone.
 That's an enduring problem with "children's" books, not so?  Gulliver's Travels, Pilgrim's Progress, Huckleberry Finn have all spent their time on the children's shelf when it is pretty clear that adults were the real audience.  I confess I had never heard of Chris Van Allsburg; here's a Wiki link

Update:  My friend Steve writes a posthumous fan letter.

1 comment:

dilbert dogbert said...

Went to Steve's' link and noticed he did not capitalize bettelheims.. As the proud owner of an autistic son I would use a more forceful way to note my displeasure.