Maurice Sendak turns 80, doesn't think he's so great

Filed under: Life & Style, In The News, That's Entertainment

Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, The Little Bear series -- are these the work of a "mere illustrator"? I asked my kids and they said absolutely not -- they are the work of a great artist. If you ask the man himself, Maurice Sendak, however, he's not so sure. Despite having illustrated more than a hundred books, designed sets for the opera, ballet, and theatre, and won countless awards and prizes, he still questions his place in history.

Sendak turned 80 this summer and was interviewed by the New York Times. According to the article, he's had a bit of a rough time lately. He had a heart attack and a triple bypass -- another part of his life that he feels isn't up to snuff, as everyone else is having quadruple bypasses. "You feel like such a failure," he said.

Sadly, he also lost his partner of fifty years to cancer last year. He has been unable, after his heart attack, to take long walks with his dog. And when told that an upcoming benefit celebration for his 80th birthday is sold out, he was surprised and surmised that people must be coming to see the other celebrities on the bill, such as Meryl Streep, James Gandolfini, and Spike Jonze.

I understand it can be difficult to recognize the quality of your own work, but there can be no disputing the impact and widespread appeal of Sendak's artistry. I loved his books as a child and so do my kids. Whether or not he thinks he's great, children everywhere do.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.