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University of Michigan Press

Maurice Sendak (photo: Federico Novaro/flickr cc)

Maurice Sendak, the renowned children’s book author best known for Where the Wild Things Are, passed away last Tuesday morning at the age of 83. On a day that included many remembrances and tributes across the literary world, U-M Press author Ellen Handler Spitz (Illuminating Childhood) was a guest on NPR’s Madeleine Brand Show to speak about Sendak’s life and work.

“It’s hard to think of anyone else, any other American, who did more for children’s literature,” Spitz said on NPR. “Maurice Sendak had an uncanny way of seeing into a child’s private world, a child’s world of fantasy. But I think what I find most important about his legacy is that he was able to create books and characters who captured the way every child at some point feels alone, feels misunderstood, or neglected, or misperceived, or overlooked. Even the most loved child feels that from time to time, and Maurice Sendak was able to capture that in his books.”

Spitz also wrote Sendak’s obituary for The New Republic, where she is the children’s book editor.

For the full NPR interview, including a clip of President Obama reading Where the Wild Things Are, click here. For the TNR article, click here.

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