A friend alerted me to this article by Dwight Garner in the NYT:
“The cliché about children’s book writers is that they’re sensitive, mewling types — wearers of cardigans, dispensing uplift as if it were Purell hand sanitizer.
The best, of course, from the Brothers Grimm through Roald Dahl and the brilliant Maurice Sendak, who died on Tuesday, have always been exactly the opposite. Their stuff is anarchic and verges on the nightmarish. These writers want children to take themselves seriously. They want them to grow up a bit, starting now.
Mr. Sendak’s books weren’t in my house when I was a child, an omission that, I have come to realize, was a perverse kind of gift. I got to discover them while reading them aloud, approximately 250 times each, to my two children. “Children are made readers,” the writer Emilie Buchwald said, “on the laps of their parents.” I was made a Sendak devotee with my children on my lap, and I could sense their delight reinforcing my own.
His acknowledged classic is “Where the Wild Things Are” (1963), about Max, who is sent to bed without supper only to find that a tangled forest and a wild sea sprout from his imagination. He stares down fanged monsters by looking into their yellow eyes without blinking. He is made “the king of all wild things.” He throws what is surely the greatest dance party in kid-lit history, engaging the monsters in a “wild rumpus” that Don Cornelius, the creator of “Soul Train,” would envy.
I’ve loved some of the things that Mr. Sendak would later say about “Where the Wild Things Are.” In 2006, for example, he wondered aloud to a New Yorker writer, Cynthia Zarin, about where Max would be now.”
(Read the complete article here.)
Whether it’s for children or adults: We don’t need uplifting books.
My godson was (or perhaps is) in love with Sendak, especially his book "In the Night Kitchen".
See this entry.