The 20 Greatest Maurice Sendak Quotes

RIP.

“I don’t believe in children. I don’t believe in childhood. I don’t believe that there’s a demarcation. ‘Oh you mustn’t tell them that. You mustn’t tell them that.’ You tell them anything you want. Just tell them if it’s true. If it’s true you tell them.”

“You know who my gods are, who I believe in fervently? Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson — she’s probably the top — Mozart, Shakespeare, Keats. These are wonderful gods who have gotten me through the narrow straits of life.”

“Fuck them is what I say. I hate those e-books. They cannot be the future. They may well be. I will be dead. I won’t give a shit.”

“I’m writing a poem right now about a nose. I’ve always wanted to write a poem about a nose. But it’s a ludicrous subject. That’s why, when I was younger, I was afraid of [writing] something that didn’t make a lot of sense. But now I’m not. I have nothing to worry about. It doesn’t matter.”

“I think it is unnatural to think that there is such a thing as a blue-sky, white-clouded happy childhood for anybody. Childhood is a very, very tricky business of surviving it. Because if one thing goes wrong or anything goes wrong, and usually something goes wrong, then you are compromised as a human being. You’re going to trip over that for a good part of your life.”

“A woman came up to me the other day and said, ‘You’re the kiddie-book man!’ ” Mr. Sendak told Vanity Fair last year. “I wanted to kill her.”

“There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready.”

“Live your Life. Live your Life. Live your Life.”

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“It is a blessing to get old. It is a blessing to find the time to do the things, to read the books, to listen to the music. … I have nothing now but praise for my life.”

“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”

“There must be more to life than having everything.”

“I would infinitely prefer a daughter. If I had a son, I would leave him at the A&P or some other big advertising place where somebody who needs a kid would find him and he would be all right. … A daughter would be drawn to me. A daughter would want to help me. Girls are infinitely more complicated than boys, and women more than men. And there’s no doubt about that. We just don’t like to think about it. Certainly the men don’t like to think about it. I have lived my whole life with a dream daughter.”

“Children are tough, though we tend to think of them as fragile. They have to be tough. Childhood is not easy. We sentimentalize children, but they know what’s real and what’s not. They understand metaphor and symbol. If children are different from us, they are more spontaneous. Grown-up lives have become overlaid with dross.”

“I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more.”

“Children do live in fantasy and reality; they move back and forth very easily in a way we no longer remember how to do.”

“They (children) have written to me. They trust me in a way, I daresay, possibly more than they trust their parents. I’m not going to bullshit them. I’m just not. And if they don’t like what they hear, that’s tough bananas.”

“Kids don’t know about best sellers. They go for what they enjoy. They aren’t star chasers and they don’t suck up. It’s why I like them.”

“And now,” cried Max, “let the wild rumpus start!”

“I believe there is no part of our lives, our adult as well as child life, when we’re not fantasizing, but we prefer to relegate fantasy to children, as though it were some tomfoolery only fit for the immature minds of the young. Children do live in fantasy and reality; they move back and forth very easily in a way we no longer remember how to do.”

“Please don’t go. We’ll eat you up. We love you so.”

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