Have you Googled anything today? If you've visited Google, you'll have noticed a special animated celebration for what would have been Maurice Sendak's 85th birthday. The animation begins with Max venturing off into Where the Wild Things Are, proceeds through the Night Kitchen, and ends in the Bumble-Ardy birthday party.
Early subscribers will recall that one of the first long-form Reports, sent over a year ago, was a celebration of the life of Maurice Sendakfollowing his death on May 8, 2012. I have reproduced that Report below in a special "From the Archives" edition of the Report. It's one of my favorite pieces, and whether you're reading it for the first time or revisiting it from its first distribution, I hope you enjoy.
Today's report also focuses on a legendary figure of children's literature, as we reflect on the passing of Maurice Sendak. Though Sendak wrote and/or illustrated over 100 books during his career, readers no doubt remember him most for the classics Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen. Anyone familiar with my wardrobe or bookshelf will know that I am a huge fan of Where the Wild Things Are, owning three t-shirts based on the book, the book itself, and two copies of Dave Eggers' novel adaptation (One fur covered, one not). For today's report, I felt it would be appropriate to compile some of my favorite Sendak (or tangentially related) web items.
First, a trailer for the Spike Jonze's film adaptation. I admit it, this is what sparked my resurgence of Sendak enthusiasm. I also admit that I have watched that trailer more than any other movie preview ever in my life. Furthermore, I think it might be better than the film itself, though the film has some beautiful and poignant moments that don't make the two minute cut. Still, the wondrous visuals, the Arcade Fire soundtrack, and the "Inside All of Us" tag-line led to months of giddy anticipation. And as long as I'm admitting things, I went to that movie alone at 11:00 AM on opening day, after having stayed up all night writing an English paper. That's how much the trailer worked on me. (And as long as we're doing tangential stories, Max Records, who stars as Max, is also featured in the opening of Rian Johnson's phenomenal The Brothers Bloom, an opening that can really stand as it's own short film.)
Spike Jonze wasn't the first one who saw screen potential in Sendak's famous book, though. Disney once owned the adaptation rights to the book, but never brought it to theaters. The idea was used, though, in some very early testing of 3D computer animation. This 1983 test animation was spearheaded by none other than John Lasseter, now Chief Creative Officer at Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, and director of Pixar's first three films. It is no coincidence that a writer and artist that so respects the children that are viewed has his primary audience once inspired the early work of a filmmaker whose studio does the same.
Finally, some interviews. Of course, Stephen Colbert's highly entertaining interview in two parts is worth a view. As is this 2004 interviewwith Bill Moyers. The real great ones, though, are on NPR. Throughout his career, Sendak had several conversations (they can hardly be called interviews, they are so comfortable) with Terry Gross, and NPR has conveniently compiled them on one remembrance page. His reflections here are beautiful, but I advise against listening to them at work, unless you are comfortable with your coworkers seeing you cry. (This is especially true for the most recent interview.) If there is any quote worth pulling here, though, it is one NPR has already pulled and bolded: "I have nothing now but praise for my life. I'm not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more... What I dread is the isolation... There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready." I find comfort in knowing this. We ate him up, we loved him so. And as one reader of the report has observed, that may mean he's still alive.
And, having eaten him up, may we be like Maurice: Creative, honest, perseverant, and respectful of children...
And may we also be like Max: Unafraid to make mischief, courageous enough to sail off through night and day, and brave enough to tame our wild things...
And when we grow lonely and tire of the wild rumpus, may we always have a place to go where someone loves us best of all...
And when we get there, may we find our supper waiting for us... still hot.
Til tomorrow, reporting from the desk where the filed things are,
"I wish you all good things. Live your life, live your life, live your life." - Maurice Sendak, in a 2011 interview with Terry Gross