Like so many people, I was really saddened to learn of the passing of Maurice Sendak last Tuesday. Throughout that whole day, I thought about his brilliant work and how meaningful he was to me. That same afternoon, I was contacted by Aviva Michaelov at The New York Times who asked me if I would like to create an original piece of art and write a small piece of text as a tribute to Sendak for the paper’s Sunday edition. Along with me, they also asked Art Spiegelman, Tomi Ungerer, Geoff McFetridge, Bob Staake, Marc Rosenthal and Jon Klassen. Without hesitation, I dropped everything and began to start drawing ideas. It seemed to fitting to “borrow” Max’s outfit (from my favourite children’s book, “Where The Wild Things Are”) and dress up one of my own characters in it. I wanted to convey the idea of “carrying on”, or passing the torch if you will. Legions of artists, like me, were first inspired by Sendak enough to start drawing. Many of us, also like me, were inspired enough to write and illustrate our own kid’s books. Sendak’s remarkable ability to unite wonderful pictures with amazingly original and irreverent storytelling gave so many of us license to find it in ourselves to also “dive head first”, as Sendak used to love to say. For this, I owe Sendak tremendous gratitude.
From The New York Times:
“As a small child, I discovered the possibilities of creativity and empowerment in Sendak’s books. It was through these ideals that I began drawing my own world of characters, narratives and scenes. This eventually led me to a very happy career as an artist, and subsequently, a kid’s book author and illustrator. My own children’s book, “This Is Silly!” owes a great deal to Max and his beastly friends. Mr. Sendak, I will never forget how you showed me that the wild things are really in our hearts.”
The author and iIllustrator of “This Is Silly!” from Scholastic Press.
© Gary Taxali 2012 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED