Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Maurice Sendak 1928-2012: “If it’s true, you tell them.”

May 8, 2012

I realized today that Maurice Sendak is one of those people I had, somewhere along the line, subconsciously, decided would live forever. Like a crotchety, brilliant, Bilbo Baggins, surely he would outlive me.

I’ve been actively thinking about him a lot lately– he was referenced several times at this conference I went to a couple weeks ago, our library is having a show of his work, his recent NPR interview, as well as his hilarious stint on the Corbert Report.  I was impressed to hear that at 83 he was working on a new book,  further solidifying his current role in my life as “long-lasting-career role model.”

One of the first picture books I remember being obsessed with is Outside Over There. Honestly, as a kid, I really didn’t appreciate Where the Wild Things Are, though I loved In the Night Kitchen. But I pored over Outside Over There.

(Incidentally, the books were a trilogy of sorts. According to Sendak:

They are all variations on the same theme: how children master various feelings – danger, boredom, fear, frustration, jealousy – and manage to come to grips with the realities of their lives.)

The story was fascinating and scary: A kidnapping and a baby made of ice! Would I be as brave as Ida, fighting goblins, to save my little sister? (Though I was pretty sure I would have heard the goblins climbing in, even if I was practicing my horn–so negating the need for such a journey. Pretty sure.) Would I ever be able to draw a woman so beautiful as the mother? (For much of my childhood this was one was of my main goals.) I wished for a long, yellow cloak.

The NY Times review states:

It is also obvious enough that its story is really about an older sister’s ambivalent feelings toward a younger sibling, and about getting one’s feelings under control …

Ah perhaps my obsession, as a newly older sister, now makes sense.

Little Bear was another favorite.  He was silly (–You’re not really on the moon, Little Bear!) but relatable, and I had a friend named Emily too.

Years later while attending Pratt, Sendak was interviewed as part of a lecture series. I didn’t know what to expect– I hadn’t heard him speak before. I was thrown at first, but then loved his lack of charm and artifice. His quick witt. At the time his “Wild Things” were plastered all over the city as part of an ad campaign for Verizon.  I remember someone challenging him on that, and I sort of loved his honest response. There was a lot next to his house in Brooklyn that he wanted to buy. The deal enabled him to do so. With a mischevious look, he added that getting paid to compare a large communication company to hulking monsters, was a bonus.

To be dramatic in a way that would probably amuse him, I’ll end with saying that the path I’ve chosen is due in no small part to Mr. Sendak and his books.  “I’m in the milk. And the milk’s in me.”

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

March 2, 2012

Dr. Seuss

Today Theodor Seuss Geisel would be 108 years old! 

Dr. Seuss with chuck close

Dr. Seuss

Some things I didn’t know about him:

  • He first used the pen name ‘Seuss’ while at Dartmouth.  The story goes he was caught drinking with friends in a dorm, and as punishment, was banned from extracurricular activities including writing for the college’s humor magazine. So he wrote using his middle name–Seuss.
  • One of my favorite animated shorts, Oscar-winning Gerald McBoing-Boingwas based on his short story that originally appeared on a children’s record in 1950.
  • His first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street! , was rejected 27 times.
  • The Cat in the Hat was published when we was 53.

Did you have a favorite Dr. Seuss book growing up?

It’s hard to choose, but I think mine was Green Eggs and Ham. That Sam was just so annoying. “I do not like them, Sam-I-am!”

“The Happiness Project”

February 16, 2012

The Happiness Project book

Have you guys read “The Happiness Project“, by Gretchen Rubin? (No, I haven’t been living under a rock. Yes, it was everywhere for a while. I just never got around to reading it. And honestly, I didn’t think it would live up to the hype.) What did you think?

In the past year, or so, I’ve found myself randomly researching happiness and learning more about it. I find the topic fascinating and I think this would have been a great book to start with. I’ve been nodding and taking notes (–seriously, notes.) I’m tempted to buy used copies and hand them out to everyone I know.

I say this knowing I tend to get obsessed with books while I’m immersed in them. It will be interesting to see if the glow wears off after I’m done.  Or if I’ll have a dog-eared copy forever.

Curious to hear what other people think of it. Thumbs up?


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