Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Outside Over There

I didn't realize how much of my childhood was written by Maurice Sendak until I was an adult. You never pay attention to that sort of thing when you're little. But when my sisters had kids, my mothers and I would tuck them into bed with In the Night Kitchen and Where the Wild Things Are. I can close my eyes and see the illustrations of a little bear in a cardboard space suit coming home or the melting ice baby from Outside Over There.

There's an amazing feeling, when you open up a book that your parents read to you, as if suddenly the world warps and you're warm in somebody's lap, and the universe is composed of sugary cereals and climbable trees, and problems that the distant adult part of you knows weren't ever problems at all. You remember how much bigger the world looked, and that sense of wonder. And these little things, these incantations of memory- "Ida played her wonder horn", "Max, the king of where the wild things are"- are anchors that keep you from drifting too far away from that part of yourself.

We lost a man today to whom I owe some of the first dreams planted in the garden of my imagination. Thank you, Mr. Sendak. I'll read you to my children, and I hope they will read you to theirs. 

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