Maurice Sendak, the author and illustrator of children’s favourite Where The Wild Things Are died today age 83. I’ll be honest, I never read any of his books, but I have always had a huge soft spot for his illustrations.
Looking through The Guardian website today, I was dismayed to read that Sendak was annoyed by the term “children’s illustrator” ‘since it seems to belittle his talent. “I have to accept my role. I will never kill myself like Vincent Van Gogh. Nor will I paint beautiful water lilies like Monet. I can’t do that. I’m in the idiot role of being a kiddie book person,”’
In my view the images we see in books as children stay with us forever. I will never forget the image of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin playing poohsticks on the bridge in 100 Acre Wood, nor the terrifying image of Alice in Wonderland shooting up in size after drinking the magic potion, or of the Enormous Turnip growing bigger and bigger with every page turn. These are the visual images that stay with us throughout our lives, that foster our creativity, excitement and joy for the world. Sendak’s wonderful imagery will continue to delight young and old for many more generations. Personally I’d take that joy over a water lilly any day….