Maurice Sendak: 10 essential quotes

Children's writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and made window displays for FAO Schwarz before becoming an illustrator and writer, will be remembered as a giant in the world of children's literature. His best known book "Where the Wild Things Are," published in 1963, was a game-changer for its genre. Its story of a young protagonist named Max, who journeys to a mysterious land populated by monsters, took children's books from the realm of the safe and the cozy into a land of darkly imaginative dreams.

Sendak also worked as the illustrator for the beloved "Little Bear" series (the first book was published in 1957) and wrote and illustrated many other books including classics such as "In the Night Kitchen" (1970) and "The Sign on Rosie's Door" (1960).

He said he was profoundly influenced by the deaths of some of his extended family members in the Holocaust. "I can't say exactly why," he told the Monitor. "But I am still trying to filter through all that business in my life and turn it into art."

Barbara Gilbert, the curator of fine arts for the Skirball Museum in Los Angeles, where an exhibit about Sendak's work was held, said that Sendak moved the children's book genre beyond amusing pictures.

"Children's books were always very pretty," Gilbert said. "But Sendak wanted them to be honest."

Sendak died on May 8, 2012.

Mary Altaffer/AP

1. On writing for children versus adults


"I don't believe that there's a demarcation. 'Oh, you mustn't tell them that. You mustn't tell them that.' You tell them anything you want. Just tell them if it's true. If it's true, you tell them."

-From the documentary "Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak"

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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