Recalling Sendak's 'dark and clear-eyed view'
FILE - In this Sept. 6 2011 file photo, children's book author Maurice Sendak is photographed doing an interview at his home in Ridgefield, Conn. Sendak, author of the popular children's book "Where the Wild Things Are," died, Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Conn. He was 83. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, file)
NEW YORK (AP) — Maurice Sendak's closest friends gathered in his hospital room — playwright Tony Kushner, authors Brian Selznick and Gregory Maguire. Kushner brought jellybeans, while Maguire placed a picture of Lewis Carroll on the table beside Sendak's bed.
"The one thing he wasn't uncertain about was his significance," Maguire said Tuesday, hours after Sendak died at age 83. A scowling monument of 20th century children's literature, Sendak had suffered a stroke late last week and spent his remaining days hospitalized in Danbury, Conn.
FILE - In this Sept. 25, 1985 file photo, author Maurice Sendak poses with one of the characters from his book "Where the Wild Things Are," designed for the operatic adaptation of his book in St. Paul, Minn. Sendak died, Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Conn. He was 83. (AP Photo, file)
"He always identified with his heroes from the past and felt like they spoke to him and encouraged him to do brilliant work. So I thought I would give Maurice a glimpse of the people waiting for him on the other side."
Sendak, among the most honored and adored children's authors, ranks with Dr. Seuss as a revolutionary force of the past half-century. He told stories about children that were actually about children, and not what adults wished them to be. He inspired every author, from Judy Blume to Daniel Handler, who ever wanted to go a little too far.
This image provided by HarperCollins shows the book cover of "Where the Wild Things Are," by Maurice Sendak. Sendak died Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Conn. He was 83. (AP Photo/HarperCollins)
"It's almost impossible to overstate his importance," says Handler, known for the Lemony Snicket "Series Of Unfortunate Events" books. "He's a North Star in the firmament of anyone who makes children's books, in particular for his dark and clear-eyed view of the world that was kindred to me when I was in kindergarten and kindred to me now. He gives neither the comfort nor the horror of sentimentality."