Famous children's author Maurice Sendak died today in Connecticut. The only one of Sendak's books that I really remember reading was Where the Wild Are, but I truly loved that book as a child, and I both read it myself and had it read to me many, many times.
As a little kid (maybe especially as a little boy), I think you get a certain sense that adults are hiding many of the scary, troubling parts of life from you, but you sense that they're out there, anyway. I can't speak to the experience that girls have, but little boys have a certain desire to seek out some of the scary, dangerous, wilder parts of life and prove that they can handle them. I don't know if it's cultural or genetic or what, but young boys have a desire to prove themselves through acts of bravery and toughness, and as a little kids we get sort of impatient with the fact that adults keep hiding from us the very chaos and difficulty that we want to confront in order to define ourselves.
Sendak seemed to intuitively understand the attraction toward scary things that some children feel, the impatience they feel in response to the confining protectiveness of adults, and the ultimate comfort that children find in the safety and security of home and family. Some of themes border on the contradictory, but they're all part of the childhood experience, nonetheless, and Sendak managed to wrap all of these things and more into Where the Wild Things Are.
Anyway, I love that book. I have good memories of my parents reading it, and it managed to really capture my imagination in a remarkable way.
Thanks for sharing your stories with us, Mr. Sendak.