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Maurice Sendak, Dead: Remembering the 'Where the Wild Things Are' Author's Love of Music and Carole King Collaboration
- Posted on May 8th 2012 12:35PM by Joshua Ostroff
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"I don't write for children," he recently told Stephen Colbert. "No. I write, and somebody says 'that's for children.' I didn't set out to make children happy. Or life better for them. Or easier for them. I like them as few and far between as I like adults. Maybe a bit more, because I really don't like adults."
Of course, that unsentimental attitude is precisely what made books like Where the Wild Things Are so enduringly powerful amongst the similarly unsentimental knee-high set. Sendak's prickly yet majestic aesthetic is also what paired his work so brilliantly with Arcade Fire's specially re-recorded "Wake Up" in the unbeatable trailer for Spike Jonze's live-action Wild Things and provided wonderful inspiration for Karen O and the Kids' end-credits theme song "All is Love."
But that wasn't the first time Sendak's work was paired with music. In 1962, he wrote the book Chicken Soup with Rice (A Book of Months), which happens to be a favourite of my two-year-old son's. It's a series of adorably odd rhymes, pegged to each month, about a young boy's obsession with the titular soup.
It was part of a series of short, song-like stories called The Nutshell Library which, in 1975, became part of the Sendak-directed animated special and top-20 soundtrack album Really Rosie with music and vocals by Carole King. It was later expanded for the stage, enjoyed an Off-Broadway run and became regularly performed by children's theatre troupes.
Sendak may not love adults, but he did love music, Mozart most of all.
"Art has always been my salvation," he said in a 2004 interview with PBS. "When Mozart is playing in my room, I am in conjunction with something I can't explain. I don't need to. I know that if there's a purpose for life, it was for me to hear Mozart."
And that is exactly how many of us feel about Sendak's own stories. May he enjoy his rest where the wild authors are.