Friday, March 15, 2013 -- fresh air and fresh advice from maurice

I love, and have always loved, Maurice Sendak.  He is one of my heroes in life.  Not necessarily for anything he has done, but just for the happiness he has given my childhood.

A little about Maurice and my childhood:

1.  I don't have a good relationship with my father.  Currently, we don't speak.  This can change in the future, but that's just how things are for the present.  I struggle to remember good things about my father and good memories with him.  There is one thing I remember - it's not really a memory, but it's a piece of knowledge.  My dad bought me Where the Wild Things Are (1963).  I don't remember when and I don't even remember him giving it to me, but as a child, it was one of my favorite books.  The story isn't much, at least in my opinion, but the illustration is out of this world.  When I read that book, whether it be to myself and just flipping through it, or to a child, I feel this warmth inside me.  There is just something about that book that captures me emotionally.

2.  Every Christmas on PBS I would watch this specific version of The Nutcracker.  I loved the Nutcracker and still do.  It was a tradition of mine, as a young one, to watch The Nutcracker every year.  I remember doing laundry while watching it.  I don't ever remember being able to sit down and just watch it.  I remember always doing chores while it was on.  This wasn't just any performance of Tchaikovsky's classic, but Nutcracker: The Motion Picture (1986).  I first saw this movie when I was in Mrs. Frodge's music class at Amelia Elementary school.  I think I was in the 3rd grade.  I was captivated by the music, of course, but also the costumes and the set.  My love for it spurred my ritual watching.  I asked to have a copy of it one year, but it was impossible to find.  For one, there are thousands of versions of The Nutcracker out there on film. Every time I had watched it on television, I didn't catch which specific ballet performed it.  Then I remembered why I loved it so much... Maurice Sendak was responsible for the production and costume design!  Once I remembered this, it made Googling the film much easier, but alas!  You could only get it on VHS and by then, VHS had been taken over by the DVD.  I was overjoyed when, years later, I could buy a digital copy on amazon and watch it whenever I wanted.  Then, a couple years later, it was added to Netflix.

My senior year of college at Miami University, I had some random credits to fill for graduation.  I have always had this love for children's literature, so there I was, a sociology major, taking a children's literature course.  It was definitely one of my joys of college.  We read Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia, Jacob Have I Loved), E.B. White (Charlotte's Web), and of course, Maurice Sendak.  I don't remember who else we focused on, but these were the three authors I learned a lot about.  I was beside myself when the syllabus showed we would be discussing Maurice.  Of course, we read Where the Wild Things Are, but the best part of class was learning about Maurice, his life, and his contributions to children's literature.

I was walking through Barnes & Noble one day and found this awesome book in the clearance section: The Art of Maurice Sendak.  I think it was $6.  To buy it new on Amazon it prices at $143!!!  I think this is because dear Maurice passed away last year in May.  It's this giant book, like a coffee table book, and is filled with history and art and wonderfulness.

When I have children, they will surely know about Maurice Sendak.  I am grateful for the happiness he brought me as a child and I hope that my children will draw as much happiness from his work as I have.

"Live your life, live your life, live your life."

Thanks for the advice, Maurice.  Thank you for your life.