Maurice Sendak has died at the age of 83 due to complications from a recent stroke.
There is a wonderful obituary on the New York Times site by Margalit Fox, which includes this lovely description:
A largely self-taught illustrator, Mr. Sendak was at his finest a shtetl Blake, portraying a luminous world, at once lovely and dreadful, suspended between wakefulness and dreaming. In so doing, he was able to convey both the propulsive abandon and the pervasive melancholy of children’s interior lives.
He did have a rather dark vision of the world, yet not without sympathy and understanding. Here’s a quote from Sendak himself, from his Caldecott acceptance speech:
… from their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disruptive emotions… fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives… (and) they continually cope with frustration as best they can.
His was always a refreshing antidote to the unrelenting sunshine and cheer of the majority of children’s books, and – like the traditional fairy tales he drew inspiration from – his works grip the imagination more tenaciously than the floaty bits of fluff that pass for children’s entertainment these days.
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