I really enjoyed this essay about Seuss, Sendak and Silverstein in the NYT.
“Once upon a more staid time, the purpose of children’s books was to model good behavior. They were meant to edify and to encourage young readers to be what parents wanted them to be, and the children in their pages were well behaved, properly attired and devoid of tears. Children’s literature was not supposed to shine a light on the way children actually were, or delight in the slovenly, self-interested and disobedient side of their natures.
Seuss, Sendak and Silverstein ignored these rules. They brought a shock of subversion to the genre — defying the notion that children’s books shouldn’t be scary, silly or sophisticated. Rather than reprimand the wayward listener, their books encouraged bad (or perhaps just human) behavior. Not surprisingly, Silverstein and Sendak shared the same longtime editor, Ursula Nordstrom of Harper & Row, a woman who once declared it her mission to publish “good books for bad children.””
Via The Children’s Book Council’s Facebook page
One of our Facebook fans pointed us to this Paris Review interview with Maurice Sendak about the publication of ‘Bumble-Ardy.’
“It’s a very strange book, in terms of my feelings for it. It came from a deep place. I was intensely involved in the vanity of the parents. I mean, how does the child live with that? I remember I once watched this baby whale separated from its mother. The baby whale is panicked and it looks for its mother among the other whales, and they know it’s not their baby. They turn away from it, and you’re left to wonder, How does the baby live, how does the baby feel? Can’t the others see that he’s one of them? Bumble is an outcast. This was an experiment in what it’s like to feel … deeply rejected.”
I find the whole interview really fascinating. Another of our customers was telling me yesterday that Mr. Sendak did the sets and costumes for the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. Now I really want to go to Seattle at Christmas just so I can see it.
Today’s the day! Maurice Sendak’s highly anticipated new picture book, ‘Bumble-Ardy,’ was released this morning. As it turns out, Susan and I are of differing opinions on it. She loves it. I find it … a little disturbing. She was quick to point out that when ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ was published in 1963, people found it kind of disturbing, too. And of course, it went on to transform children’s literature forever. So there you go.
‘Bumble-Ardy’ has apparently been rattling around in Mr. Sendak’s head for more than 40 years. It’s a sort of evolution of this short film that he and Jim Henson did for Sesame Street back in 1970.