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(crossposted to Worcester Poets Asylum)

Sad news this morning from the New York Times (obit below the fold). Beloved poet and children’s author, Maurice Sendak has passed away.

Maurice Sendak has always held a very special place for me. One of my earliest memories from childhood is reading Chicken Soup With Rice in kindergarten – I distinctly remember the librarian at the Ethel McKnight School in East Windsor, NJ, holding the oversized book open for us to all see the pictures as we crowded in to hear her tell the story. I remember being read to when I was small enough to still fit on a lap, and the bright pages of Where The Wild Things Are taking up more space than the room possibly could hold.

And when my own son was born, we read every Sendak book we could find together. We started reading together before he was even old enough to understand that books were more than just delightful on the gums. When he was a couple years old, Where The Wild Things Are*, In The Night Kitchen and Outside Over There became our very favorites.

Just this weekend, I picked up a copy of Bumble-Ardy for my nieces, barely daring to wonder to myself if this would be his last book. In an NPR interview last year, he just sounded so sad – he cried through the interview with Terri Gross (Fresh Air, September 20, 2011), lamenting the passing of his partner of fifty years, Eugene Glynn, as well as other friends whom he had outlived. He said, “I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more,” and I started crying too, there in the car, on I-190, weeping and driving, and hearing how he sounded so lonesome.

Oh, Maurice – thank you for your words, for your pictures, for these beautiful pieces of childhood and parenthood that you gave us. I’ll miss you. The wild rumpus will forever be changed by your passing.

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May 2012