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Maurice Sendak may be the best-known children's author / illustrator in the world today. His artwork has become somewhat of an American icon; some even became the basis of an advertising campaign for Bell Atlantic. This extremely gifted genius was actually cultivating within Sendak since his childhood, and many different memories from his youth influenced the masterpieces he has created.
Born in Brooklyn on June 10th (coincidently, my birthday) 1928, Sendak has illustrated over 70 books and written at least 15 himself. He has also derived animated films for many of his stories, as well as stage productions of Where The Wild Things Are and Really Rosie. Currently, he illustrates the animated series Little Bear on Nickelodeon. Sendak grew up a sickly child who was not allowed to go outside often. Therefore, being the youngest child in a family of three, he was left alone with his imagination. He enjoyed drawing and reading from an early age, but was often dissatisfied with the children books that were available to him. He attempted to read what he called "real books" even when he was a young child; he felt it was an embarrassment even to enter the childrens' section of the library. Sendak writes the type of books he wished he had as a child; entertaining stories which are not limited by any effort to make things so simple for children that they become mundane.
Sendak's greatest influence as a writer was his father. Phillip Sendak was a wonderfully creative storyteller who amazed Maurice and his brother and sister. "He didn't edit," remarks Maurice in an interview with Marion Long. "It's funny, because that's what I'm accused of now: being a storyteller who tells children inappropriate things." Sendak strongly believes that children are curious by nature, and so he must write stories which beckon the child to keep turning the pages. The best stories for children tell children exactly what they want to hear, with all the details. This is Sendak's goal in his stories.
An absolutely amazing artist without any formal training, Sendak feels that his adoration for Mickey Mouse has influenced many of his illustrations. Sendak was calls Mickey Mouse one of the most dominant figures of his childhood. This "early best friend" influenced characters in his work, and many of the protagonists in the books he has written have first names beginning with the letter "M." He used Max for Where the Wild Things Are, Martin in Very Far Away, and Mickey's own name for In the Night Kitchen. However the style of classic Mickey Mouse was also influential in the creating the art of In the Night Kitchen, while his father's no-holds-barred approach significantly shaped the plot.
Many Mickey Mouse type items appear in the illustrations of In The Night Kitchen. The oven in which the bakers bake is labeled "Mickey Oven" written in the same print type used by Walt Disney. The circular logos used on the first and last pages show Sendak's character Mickey in the same pose commonly associated with Mickey Mouse. According to Sendak, the names on the food products in the kitchen are names of people associated with the production and animation of the famous mouse. Other American icons Sendak recalls from childhood appear in this book; the bakers, who originally were sketched as animals, all resemble Hardy of the comic team Laurel and Hardy. The writer was inspired to make this change by a rerun of one of their films on television, which he remembered enjoying in his youth. Being a childhood fan of nursery rhymes, Sendak modeled portions of his text from the classic language of Mother Goose: the line "I'm in the milk and the milk's in me" is evolved from Goose's rhyme, "I see the moon and the moon sees me."
The plot of the story also emerged from accumulated childhood memories. Sendak recalls seeing a running advertisement for the Sunshine Bakers as a child. The slogan which appeared said, "We Bake While You Sleep." Sendak remembers being most irritated by this ad; how dare they bake while he slept?! He wanted to stay up with them; he felt it was absolutely cruel for them to go off to some magical land to bake while he was forced to go to sleep. He designed this book as a sort-of vendetta, "To let them know that I was now old enough
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Maurice Sendak, Really Rosie, In the Night Kitchen, Where the Wild Things Are, The Wild Things, Little Bear, Rosie, Outside Over There, Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak, maurice sendak, sickly child, animated films, real books, stage productions, american icon, bell atlantic, little bear, brother and sister, wild things, advertising campaign, storyteller, nickelodeon, world today, masterpieces, embarrassment, goa, rosie, children books, illustrator
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