Maurice Sendak, children’s book author and illustrator, died today at the age of 83.
My name is Max. I think it’s one of the greatest names ever and I’ve got Maurice Sendak to thank for that. When my mom was pregnant with me, my dad gave her a copy of Where the Wild Things Are starring Max. It was, naturally, one of the first books ever read to me and I could read it aloud to myself long before I understood letters.
Fresh Air dedicated their whole show to Maurice Sendak today, pulling excerpts from the four interviews Terry Gross recorded with him since 1986. I highly recommend a listen. At one point she asked him to share some of his favorite comments from readers that he’d gotten over his long writing career. His reply:
Oh, there are so many. Can I give you just one that I really like? It was from a little boy. He sent me a charming card with a little drawing. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters—sometimes very hastily—but this one I lingered over. I sent him a postcard and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim, I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.
Check out the kind of envelope kids would get in response to fan mail:
Pretty amazing. We’d eat it, too. Rest in peace, Maurice Sendak.