Many of us, followed by our children, have fallen in love with the tale of naughty Max and the fanged giant monsters from a far off land. It's a story that never gets old and became a full length feature film in 2009. But Sendak's legacy also includes textbook illustrations as far back as the 1950s, early membership on the National Board of Advisors of the Children's Television Workshop during the development stages of Seasame Street, as well as designing sets for many operas and ballets. Sendak has been at the center of controversy here and there. His illustrations have included earthy nude drawings of child protagonists and his story-lines have been called "odd, demanding, yet appealing". We enjoy his books in our home, so I suggest you explore the variety of his literature on your own. In honor of his mile long list of works I've compiled a short sample of Sendak's creations that are less popular, but equally as gratifying as the Caldecott Medal winning Where the Wild Things Are.
1. Nigel and I love In the Night Kitchen, originally issued in 1970. It's a delightful book about a boy's late night bread baking kitchen romp.
2. Outside, Over There (1981) is the story of a girl, Ida, and her jealousy of her little sister. Ida is resistant of increased responsibility, but eventually comes around and saves the baby from goblins.
3. The 1956 Kenny's Window Sendak is comprised of 7 stories, each initiated by a "question" dreamed by Kenny. Readers are introduced to the deep imagination and beautiful, strange logic of a young boy, alone in his room at play.
4. Sendak's "Nutshell Library" (1971) consists of 4 hand-sized concept books:
Alligators All Around -- an A B C book featuring an alligator family bursting balloons, catching colds, doing dishes, entertaining elephants, etc.
One Was Johnny -- a Counting book featuring Johnny who lived by himself. The story builds one character and event at a time, such as the house that Jack built. By the time there are nine villains "10 is a puzzle, what should Johnny do?
Chicken Soup With Rice -- a Calendar book featuring chicken soup with rice served up whimsically throughout each month of the year.
Pierre -- a Cautionary Tale -- featuring apathetic Pierre who can't be made to care. Careless Pierre eventually becomes lion fare until retrieved by the doctor.
5. Bumble-Ardy (2011) is about a mischievous pig who reaches the age of nine without ever having a birthday party. But all that changes when Bumble-Ardy is orphaned and he throws a party for himself and invites all his friends, leading to a wild masquerade that quickly gets out of hand.
6. Very Far Away (1957) is the second book written and illustrated by Sendak. Imagine Where The Wild Things Are with animals instead of monsters. The two book project delivers a traditional ending, as well as more complex statements about happiness and delusion.
7. The Sign on Rosie's Door (1960) is a charming book about Rosie, a creative little girl who transforms herself in a motley crew of characters.
8. We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy (1993), a unique story in nursery rhyme format, follows two guys on a quest to save a kid and a bunch of kittens. Evil rats and the moon are additional characters in this twisted tall tale.
9. 1976's Some Swell Pup or Are You Sure You Want a Dog? is a book for everyone who has ever trained a dog, or plans to take on the project. It is instructive and fun for all potential puppy owners.
10. Before taking up writing Sendak was best known for illustrating Else Holmelund Minarik's Little Bear series of books. Check them out with your little ones for a fun story time treat.
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