Saturday, October 24, 2009

and it was still hot

So, of course I had to do a window display at Powell's for Where the Wild Things Are. It was one of my first favorite books and one of my longest-standing favorite books. I have to say, I worry about enjoying the film (which I'll be seeing today with Maxx and Zoë, as I visit down here in California) because part of what is beautiful about the book is its perfect spareness. I know, I know, I know - that was the book, this will be the film, and they're different things, and I should try to make room in my heart for both, but you don't understand how important this book and Maurice Sendak are to me.

Years ago when I first started considering getting a tattoo someday, my first thought was, hmm, should I go with Max and the moon during the wild rumpus night or Mickey in his dough airplane in the night kitchen?

Let's see if I can remember the titles of all the Sendak books I own (written and illustrated by or just illustrated by)...

Where the Wild Things Are, Mickey in the Night Kitchen, The Sign on Rosie's Door, Outside Over There, Some Swell Pup, The Love For Three Oranges, We Are All In the Dumps With Jack and Guy, Pierre A Cautionary Tale, A Hole is to Dig, the Little Bear books, Higglety Pigglety Pop or there must be more to life... I bought the memoir Sleep Demons for the cover which he illustrated (but good book!), Chicken Soup with Rice, Alligators All Around, One Was Johnny, The Green Book, Lullabies and Night Songs, Hector Protector and As I Went Over the Water, The Nutcracker, Kenny's Window, Fly By Night, The Cunning Little Vixen, No Fighting No Biting, What Do You Say Dear?, What Can You Do With a Shoe, Frank and Joey Go To Work, Swine Lake, Dear Mili, I Saw Esau, The Miami Giant, Brundibar...


And that's just a fraction of what he's written and illustrated. Once I was lucky enough to visit the Rosenbach museum in Pennsylvania to look through their amazing collection of Sendak illustrations and dummies and writings - excellent.

I must admit, in the first book I wrote, I shamelessly plagiarized Maurice Sendak.

It was about the size of a business card, and the cover was a piece of cardboard. Inside were a few tiny pages of cut-up newspaper which I stapled together (or possibly had Mom staple together). There were illustrations throughout. The text went something like:


It was Haloween night.

Wiches was flying.

Black cats was peeking.

Gohsts was string.
[I think that meant stirring]

And it was still dark.


I don't know exactly how old I was when I made that book - five? I can't imagine I ever would have mixed up my wases and my weres like that, but I guess I did. The And it was still dark was a direct steal from the last sentence of Where the Wild Things Are (And it was still hot). Apparently I didn't care if my plagiarized line really made sense. I think that even at that time I must have understood somewhere in my child's brain that the beauty in Sendak was in not only the story he created, but the music and rhythm of his words.

one more picture of the display. but only because the first has too much glare and the second is at an angle and i can only claim to have one good photo if i average the two together. the graphic, by the way, is not a blowup from the book but my own little send-up, created on adobe illustrator and gimp.

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