Posts Tagged ‘ obituary ’

Remembering Maurice Sendak, Author of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice SendakSince its first release in 1963 by Harper & Row, Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” has continuously appeared on “best books for kids” lists from the past few decades.  (In fact, his book was featured on several Parents book lists, including Best Books for Toddlers, The All-Time Best Books for Preschoolers, and Best Bedtime Books.)  The famous author and illustrator, who also made headlines in January for a hilarious 2-part interview on “The Colbert Report,” passed away on Tuesday from stroke complications.  He was 83 years old.

Parents have often been divided about Sendak’s most famous book, which won a Caldecott Medal in 1964 and became a live-action film directed by Spike Jonze in 2009.  Some have been charmed by the tale of a boy (Max) in a white fur suit who asserts his independence by sailing off, having adventures, and taming the wild things of a faraway kingdom.  Other parents have been less charmed by the book, finding it a bewildering tale of a boy who behaves badly and then is rewarded by becoming king of the wild things, a legion of gigantic and scary monsters with fangs and claws.  It is also a tale without a traditional narrative and it ends on an ambiguous (though vaguely happy) note.

Even though Sendak was best known for this one book, he also wrote and illustrated other unusual books such as the controversial ”In the Night Kitchen” (a naked boy dream-falls into a baker’s kitchen), “Outside Over There” (a young girl rescues her sister from goblins), and “Bumble-Ardy” (published recently in September 2011, about an orphaned pig who throws himself a birthday party). A new book of an illustrated poem, “My Brother’s Book,” will also be published posthumously in Feburary 2013.

While he also wrote some light-hearted stories such as “Chicken Soup with Rice” (a rhyming tale about a boy who eats a year’s worth of soup), his stories often had a slightly sinister edge and depicted darkness alongside innocence and fantasy.  There’s no doubt that Sendak was a legend and a one-of-a-kind storyteller who was willing to embrace and reveal an imperfect side of children’s personalities (his famous book starts with Max having a temper tantrum), and about our continual struggle to tame the beast within all of us — and come out of the other side a little more world-weary but wiser and more imaginative.

“And he sailed back over a year
and in and out of weeks
and through a day
and into the night of his very own room
where he found his supper waiting for him
and it was still hot.” (“Where the Wild Things Are”)

We’ll miss your unique storytelling, Maurice Sendak.

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Jan Berenstain, Co-Creator of the Berenstain Bears Series, Dies at 88

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Jan Berenstain, who inspired Mama Bear and co-created the beloved Berenstain Bears book series, passed away from a stroke on February 24 at her home in Solebury, PA.  She was 88 years old.

Along with her husband, Stan, who passed away in 2005, the husband-and-wife team collaborated on writing and illustrating simple and sweet stories, with good family values and strong morals, for preschoolers.  Each book focused on a specific lesson, as experienced by human-like Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Brother Bear, and Sister Bear.  Their first book, “The Big Honey Hunt,” was published in 1962 by Random House under the guidance of children’s book editor Theodor Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss), who encouraged them to rhyme each story’s text.

There are now over 300 titles in the Berenstain Bears series, published by HarperCollins, that have sold more than 260 million copies worldwide, in 23 different languages.  In addition to books, the Berenstain Bears have been featured on TV cartoons and movies, toys, clothes, video games, and mobile apps.  There is even a show touring around the country, The Berenstain Bears Live! in Family Matters the Musical.

The Berenstain’s two sons, Leo and Mike (who helps illustrate the books), will continue the family business and 19 new titles will be released this year.

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