Remembering Maurice Sendak (RIP)
Beloved children’s author Maurice Sendak died this morning as a result of the stroke he suffered on Friday. He was 83.
Sendak — who’s known for writing some of the darkest and most unsentimental stories in children’s literature — had a “moment” in 2009 when his most famous work, Where the Wild Things Are, was adapted for film (again) with some help from Spike Jonze. But I don’t want to talk about Where the Wild Things Are. Because everyone’s talking about Where the Wild Things Are. I want to remember Maurice Sendak via his animated musical, Really Rosie.
Really Rosie told some of Sendak’s more famous stories — Chicken Soup with Rice and Pierre, to name a few — through song, voiced by the legendary Carole King. Yes, Carole ”It’s too late, baby” King. And apparently, it was required that any teacher hired by my elementary school play this record exhaustively, until every kid in my class could recite each of Sendak’s stories by heart. I don’t remember much about any of the books I read in elementary school (besides Bridge to Terabithia, be still my heart), but I do remember singing “The Ballad of Chicken Soup” on a school bus as my class made its way home from our 5th grade senior class trip (right after we finished singing the CrazySexyCool album in its entirety). I remember the little blue record player my first grade class used to listen to the Really Rosie soundtrack for the first (and bajillionith) time. I remember what it was like to sit in a circle on the rug, what it was like to have a sing-along, what it was like to be a kid.
Maurice Sendak once said, “I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more.” Today, I know what he means.
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If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”