In Memory of Maurice Sendak

This week, American literature mourns the loss of its hero Maurice Sendak. Sendak is best known for writing children’s books, yet his work resonated with readers of all ages.

A less-known fact about Sendak was his distaste for eBooks. If you’re trying to find “Where The Wild Things Are” on your NOOK, you would run into a problem: none of his work is available in electronic form. Sendak was pronouncedly opposed to eBooks — going as far to tell Stephen Colbert last year, “I hate those eBooks. They cannot be the future. They may well be. I will be dead.”

Even though he staunchly opposed the form, other authors working on children’s books have readily embraced it. Right now on Lulu, you can find great electronic children’s books like OwlCat: The Cat Hoo Thought He was an Owl, Gunna’s Adventures – Gunna Daydream, and Gino The Giant Slayer.

Children’s authors have used eBooks to not only spread their work farther than print, but to also enhance it. Many have chosen to create special features that help make their book more interactive. Some have even used new technology to make older works more fun. A version of Alice in Wonderland that came out for the iPad allowed readers to have Alice grow and shrink depending on how they moved their tablet.

This is all not to say that children’s books need to be augmented to keep children’s attention. As Sendak demonstrated, all you need is a great story and a wild imagination. Still, as more and more readers are raised on eBooks instead of print books, some think it would be a shame for Sendak’s work to get lost in the transition.

In a Mashable article titled Maurice Sendak Had No Love for EBooks, But They Would Love Him, writer Lance Ulanoff says, “with Sendak gone, his legacy may fade along with him unless future generations can access his fanciful tales via colorful eBooks.”

Whether you believe that or not, it’s nice for authors to at least have such a variety of formats to chose from when they publish.

What are your favorite Sendak quotes, characters or memories?

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3 Comments

  1. I love books, and our house is full of them. I also love my Kobo. Here in Ireland we have a beautiful old book, “The Book of Kells”. It is an illistrated Gospel. We don’t produce books like that any more. Printing killed something beautiful in the world of books.
    Even so I would not want to get rid of printing and go back to copying books by hand, or to loose Lulu and go back to paying for hundreds of books in order to get published. Technology happens. We may even lose something with POD the ebook revolution, but we can’t stop progress. Instead lets embrace it and create something both beautiful and new.

  2. Morgan, Lulu

    @Alan – thank you so much for the thoughtful comment :)

  3. Hey Lulu, great post. Btw, Runaway clothes released some designs inspired by Sendak. Proceeds will go to NC public libraries.

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