Maurice Sendak is the author of the famous children’s book Where The Wild Things Are. For ten years, I worked with a Preschool Outreach group teaching volunteer readers to become a bimonthly readers in a local daycare settings aimed at 3-5 yr olds. The Where the Wild Thing are book always seemed controversial. People either loved it or hated it, rarely any in-between opinions. Mr Sendak is widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche. In book after book, Mr. Sendak upended the staid, centuries-old tradition of American children’s literature, in which young heroes and heroines were typically well scrubbed and even better behaved; nothing really bad ever happened for very long; and everything was tied up at the end in a neat, moralistic bow. (From the New York Times) He left a huge body of fascinating work and has a book coming out soon – his first in 30 years.
For me, the work that touched me most deeply was a documentary chronicling a collaboration with the fabulous dance troupe Pilobolus (this link is PG) in 2002 about the holocaust . (“Pilobolus is a mind-blowing troupe of wildly creative and physically daring dancers who leap, fly, intertwine and break all the rules. Audiences should expect the unexpected with Pilobolus!” – NYC Newsday) (Warning: This work contains adult theme, violence and nudity but it is brilliant.) This film is called “Last Dance” and is available on Netflix. The following is Netflix description : 2002 Documentarian Mirra Bank goes behind the scenes to capture a contentious collaboration between the directors of avant-garde dance company Pilobolus and children’s author Maurice Sendak, who supplies the building blocks for a dance piece lionizing a holocaust legacy. As the two camps face off over aesthetics, what emerges is a fascinating, revelatory look at the creative process, culminating in a poignant rendering of Sendak’s vision.
The Rosenbach library and Museum posted this Good-by write-up. This is the last line: “Maurice Sendak was a national treasure and a “mensch” all rolled into one.” Truely a one of a kind!