To My Wild Things

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To My Wild Things


Dear Miles, Alec, and Eric,

Tonight, we’ll read Where the Wild Things Are.  You’ll shriek when the wild rumpus begins, and you’ll giggle at the monsters’ grotesque and silly and frightening faces.  You’ll ask us to slow down so that you can look at the pictures, and you’ll get delightfully lost in the story.  And maybe somewhere, in a part of you that doesn’t yet know how to articulate it, you’ll appreciate that there was once a grown-up writer who understood that children’s fear and anger and frustration are real: not small, meaningless play-emotions but real, human emotions.  Just as real as a grown-up’s feelings.

Some day when you’ll older, you might read Maurice Sendak’s books to your own children.  You’ll listen to them as they shriek and giggle and become captivated by Sendak’s words and pictures.  You’ll watch their faces  as his stories transfix them.  And maybe you’ll appreciate that there was once a writer who took children seriously, who understood that children do not live in a world isolated from horrible, terrible things but instead live in this world, where horrible, terrible things happen.  Just like grown-ups do.

And perhaps like me, you’ll know that Sendak respected children in a way that few people do.

Perhaps you’ll admire then and now that someone out there once said this, and not only said it but also lived it in the work that he did:

Do parents sit down and tell their kids everything? I don’t know. I don’t know…I’ve convinced myself — I hope I’m right — that children despair of you if you don’t tell them the truth

Maurice Sendak died today, and I’m finding his passing especially poignant.  And that might just be because, as I look at your faces now, I hope upon hope that I’m respecting you in the same robust and brutal and remarkable way that Sendak did.


I love you so,



p.s. Besides Terry Gross’s interviews with Sendak on Fresh Air, this is one of my very favorite interviews with him:


The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak Pt. 1
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

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