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Other must-read Maurice Sendak books

By now, everyone has learned the sad news of the passing of Maurice Sendak.  Best known for his almost instant classic, “Where the Wild Things Are,” Sendak’s emotional and creative artistry left an indelible mark on children’s literature.  Sendak didn’t consider himself a children’s writer,  insisting that his books were  “about human emotion and life.”  ”They’re pigeonholed as children’s books, but the best ones aren’t — they’re just books.”

While “Where the Wild Things Are” is Sendak’s most acclaimed book (made into numerous films and read by President Obama to children at the White House), it was not the author’s favourite.  Sendak preferred “The Nutshell Library” and “Higglety Pigglety Pop or There Must be More to Life Than This.” I remember reading these books over and over again as a child, and their words and images have stuck with me as an adult.

This collection of rhymes and tales includes, “Alligators All Around,” “Chicken Soup With Rice,” “One Was Johnny,” and “Pierre.”  One is about the alphabet, one a counting book, one about seasons, and one about Pierre who would only say “I don’t care”.  Educational books that are not condescending to children, and contain something of Sendak’s fantastical art.  I had an audio-cassette recording of these books as a child, and I wish I could find it again.  It was read by a woman, and if any readers know what I’m talking about, please comment.  I would love to find these again! Oh, here it is!  I just found it on YouTube, narrated by Tammy Grimes. Now, where can I buy this?

Sendak’s witty and slightly dark humour pervade this tale of Jenny the dog’s adventures, as she seeks whatever is missing in her life, despite having “everything.”  A dog’s transformation from gluttonous being to one who would risk her own life to save a weaker creature.

Today is a sad day, but I have many happy memories of reading Sendak’s beautiful books as a child.  What are your favourite Sendak memories?

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