I remember the first time I heard a Maurice Sendak book. That's right, heard it. I was in first grade- sitting next to my best friend Julie Crane- when our music teacher, Miss Solomon (whom I will admit I was completely gone on- she had wavy coppery hair, always pulled back with big tortoise-shell barrettes, parted cleanly in the center to reveal her high, porcelain forehead- dressed usually in a denim skirt- sometimes in a denim romper, always wearing huge wedged wooden clogs, colorful tights and a turtleneck of some earth-mother color. She was a childhood dream- a vision of loveliness and of 1976- with a voice that in my six year old mind had to be what angel's sounded like....)brought us a "special treat" it was a copy of Really Rosie & the Nutshell Kids.
"I can sing tea for two, or two for tea- I can act to be or not to be...I'm terrific at EVERYTHING- no one shines brighter than me, I'm Rosie...believe me." Oh, speaking of gone- I was instantly head over heels in love with Maurice Sendak, Carole King and Rosie- because she was who I always pretended to be, in my minds eye I really was (okay, I still am) Rosie. Maurice Sendak had me right from the first words- and then I saw the pictures- and I had found a new hero.
We learned all of the stories from the series. We belted them out with all of the joy and sincerity and giggles a group of first graders could muster. I knew how much I loved those stories then, but I had no idea then how much I would love them still. (And yes, much to my children's dismay, I can still sing every word to every story.) "Where The Wild Things Are" was the very first book I bought for Ezra...he could share my well worn copies of the Nutshell library.
There was a beautiful interview on NPR yesterday featuring One of Sendak's friends and mentees, Gregory Maguire who summed up Maurice Sendak's writing for me- "He was a poet of comedy, and a poet of transformations- all his stories are about children transforming themselves out of the gloom of difficult circumstances into, maybe not paradise, maybe not salvation, but into a slightly better situation where they could take the next meal and maybe move onto the next hurdle." (The interview really is fantastic- you can
hear it here.)
Maurice Sendak, a kindered spirit to me, to my children, to so many other children and to those with the hearts of a child has gone on to twinkle brighter in the night kitchen sky. Thank you for your amazing stories and your glorious drawings. They will be enjoyed, loved and shared for ever so long. I never could have been Rosie without you.
Enjoy Really Rosie, here.