Sad news today – Maurice Sendak is dead. Sendak was my kind of guy; in a recent interview with Stephen Colbert he said “I don’t write for children. I write, and somebody says, ‘that’s for children.’ I didn’t set out to make children happy.” Preach Maurice, preach!
This got me thinking about children’s literature, and the soothing wonderfulness of being read to as a kid. Is there anything better than the sound of a parent’s voice gently telling tales of amiable protagonists with happy endings? True story: when Katy and Margaret are home for the holidays, Linda still continues the tradition. Bedtime stories for twenty-somethings, totally normal.
And since I’m a sucker for nostalgia, here’s a few of my favorite children’s books from back in the day:
In the Night Kitchen, Maurice Sendak
Where the Wild Thing Are gets all the attention, but this is the true Sendak masterpiece. “Milk in the Batter! Milk in the batter! We bake cake and nothing’s the matter!”
Outside Over There, Maurice Sendak
Outside Over There spoke to me on a spookily real basis. A little girl is begrudgingly tasked with watching her infant sister, who is then captured by goblins and replaced by a melting ice baby. Mystical journey ensues to rescue said sister before she is married off as creepy goblin baby bride. Both plot and post-Renaissance artwork are a sumptuous mix of creepy and beautiful. It is not an understatement when I say I did not like Marjorie very much until Linda read this book to me.
Angelina and the Princess (Angelina Ballerina), Katharine Holabird and Helen Craig
How I love loved looooved the Angelina Ballerina books. As an amateur ballerina myself, I was all about tutus, and Angelina had some great ones. My favorite scenes were the ones in which all the little girl-mice ballerinas were lined up with their instructor, who bore a striking resemblance, albeit in rodent form, to my own Austrian master of dance Madame Bessinger.
Angelina on Stage, Katharine Holabird and Helen Craig
Another Angelina Ballerina highlight. This too deals with an annoying younger relative. As you can imagine, this was a recurring theme for me.
A Day with Wilbur Robinson, Willaim Joyce
Simply put, I go gaga over Joyce’s illustrations. I desperately want to spend a day with Wilbur Robinson. He has a big, fun family that throws raucous dinner parties in their sprawling mansion and luxurious slumber parties in immense willow trees. FUN!
I Like the Music, Leah Komaiko
“I like the beat/ Of my feet/ When my shoes hit the street/ And I rapatapa-tapa/ On the hot concrete.” Linda can attest, I was obsessed with I Like the Music. Side note: my grandmother bought me a jean jacket with sequins and embroidery shortly after this book found its way on my radar.