Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Farewell, "king of all wild things"

On Tuesday, the picture book world lost one of its greatest talents, Maurice Sendak.  His career spanned several decades, stimulating and influencing the imaginations of so many people, young and old alike. While best known for writing and illustrating Where the Wild Things Are, his work also included In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There, and illustrations for the Little Bear series, just to name a few.  It's difficult to imagine the world of picture books without Sendak's work.  Like so many, I grew up reading and re-reading Where the Wild Things Are, losing myself in the world Sendak created and joining the wild things as Max cried, "let the wild rumpus start!" 
Indeed, as I got older and was being trained in the art of picture books, I gained a new found appreciation for the design, layout, and pacing of so much of his work.  As a great storyteller, Sendak incorporated so many complex storytelling devices while making the process seem so effortless. His unique, palpable characters and utilization of Winsor McCay's technique of correlating panel size to its corresponding events were just a few tools he used from his creative bag.  While as a child I loved to journey through his worlds of fantasy, now I enjoy studying those places and the genius behind them. 
So while we say goodbye to the "king of all wild things," countless generations to come will join Max in his private boat, help Mickey investigate the racket going on in the night kitchen, and celebrate a birthday for Little Bear with his friends.

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