On morning in early May, I was up with the Sun. And just like every other morning, I turned on NPR to find out what was going on. And on that day, I heard the sad news of Maurice Sendak’s passing. My eyes welled up with tears, as they still do when I think of this Genius of the Imagination, this King of Play, this Prince of Naughty.
2013 marks the 50th anniversary of his book Where the Wild Things Are. And what a lasting masterpiece it is! A naughty Max gets in big trouble of being too loud, too rambunctious. Then in his dream world he meets monsters and tames them. How I wish that I could tame my own monsters!
About two months ago a local school called up. “We’d like you to help us celebrate Maurice Sendak and Where the Wild Things Are,” the program coordinator said. “Could you do come tell some of his stories for our After-School Program kids?”
Me? Give a tribute to one of my most amazing heroes? I could not say, “No.” So, this week I went with my musician friend Peg Reza. We shared Sendak books from my own collection and some borrowed from the school library. I read Outside, Over There, a favorite of my own daughters. Peg and I did a spoken word rendition, Bertold Brecht-like operatic version, of Pierre: A Cautionary Tale that included a rousing audience participation piece. Peggy wrote a very fun song inspired by Wild Things… We had fun with Chicken Soup with Rice, borrowing musical ideas from the Sendak and Carole King collaboration: The Broadway version of Really Rosie.
And I wrote a little poem to compliment naughty Max’s tale:
Monster! by B.Z.
Grandpa calls me monster
Grandma says I’m bad.
Mom says, “Stop that now, or I will feel real sad.”
Uncle calls me little twerp
Auntie says I’m cute
Dad says, “Cut that out, or I am going to puke!”
I don’t know what comes over me
When I get mad and loud.
But if I stop before I crash,
Then I feel sort of proud.
Making messes, running and screaming,
I get in trouble for all my scheming.
Maybe if I quiet down,
I’ll feel better all around!
Grandpa says I’m growing up.
Grandma says I’m sweet.
Mom and Dad are so relieved…
They got me a special treat!