Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Maurice Sendak

'Where Wild Things Are' author Maurice Sendak dies
Associated Press - Tue, May 8, 2012
DANBURY, Conn. (AP) — Maurice Sendak, the children's book author and illustrator who saw the sometimes-dark side of childhood in books like "Where the Wild Things Are" and "In the Night Kitchen," died early Tuesday. He was 83.
Longtime friend and caretaker Lynn Caponera said she was with him when Sendak died at a hospital in Danbury, Conn. She said he had a stroke on Friday.
"Where the Wild Things Are" earned Sendak a prestigious Caldecott Medal for the best children's book of 1964 and became a hit movie in 2009. President Bill Clinton awarded Sendak a National Medal of the Arts in 1996 for his vast portfolio of work.
Sendak didn't limit his career to a safe and successful formula of conventional children's books, though it was the pictures he did for wholesome works such as Ruth Krauss' "A Hole Is To Dig" and Else Holmelund Minarik's "Little Bear" that launched his career.
"Where the Wild Things Are," about a boy named Max who goes on a journey — sometimes a rampage — through his own imagination after he is sent to bed without supper, was quite controversial when it was published, and his quirky and borderline scary illustrations for E.T.A. Hoffmann's "Nutcracker" did not have the sugar coating featured in other versions.
Sendak also created costumes for ballets and staged operas, including the Czech opera "Brundibar," which he also put on paper with collaborator Pulitzer-winning playwright Tony Kushner in 2003.
He designed the Pacific Northwest Ballet's "Nutcracker" production that later became a movie shown on television, and he served as producer of various animated TV series based on his illustrations, including "Seven Little Monsters," ''George and Martha" and "Little Bear."
But despite his varied resume, Sendak accepted — and embraced — the label "kiddie-book author."
"I write books as an old man, but in this country you have to be categorized, and I guess a little boy swimming in the nude in a bowl of milk (as in 'In the Night Kitchen') can't be called an adult book," he told The Associated Press in 2003.
"So I write books that seem more suitable for children, and that's OK with me. They are a better audience and tougher critics. Kids tell you what they think, not what they think they should think."
During that 2003 interview, Sendak also felt as if he were part of a dying breed of illustrators who approached their work as craftsmen. "I feel like a dinosaur. There are a few of us left. (We) worked so hard in the '50s and '60s but some have died and computers pushed others out."
Sendak, who did his work in a studio at the Ridgefield, Conn., home he moved into in the early 1960s, never embraced high-tech toys. He did, however, have a collection of Mickey Mouse and other Walt Disney toys displayed throughout the house.
When director Spike Jonez made the movie version of "Where the Wild Things Are," Sendak said he urged the director to remember his view that childhood isn't all sweetness and light. And he was happy with the result.
"In plain terms, a child is a complicated creature who can drive you crazy" Sendak told the AP in 2009. "There's a cruelty to childhood, there's an anger. And I did not want to reduce Max to the trite image of the good little boy that you find in too many books."
Sendak's own life was clouded by the shadow of the Holocaust. He had said that the events of World War II were the root of his raw and honest artistic style.
Born in 1928 and raised in Brooklyn, Sendak said he remembered the tears shed by his Jewish-Polish immigrant parents as they'd get news of atrocities and the deaths of relatives and friends. "My childhood was about thinking about the kids over there (in Europe). My burden is living for those who didn't," he told the AP.
Sendak, his sister Natalie, and late brother Jack, were the last of the family on his father's side since his other relatives didn't move to the United States before the war. The only family member Sendak really knew on his mother's side was his grandmother.
Sendak didn't go to college and worked a string of odd jobs until he went to work at the famous toy store FAO Schwarz as a window dresser in 1948. But it was his childhood dream to be an illustrator and his break came in 1951 when he was commissioned to do the art for "Wonderful Farm" by Marcel Ayme.
By 1957 he was writing his own books.
Sendak received the international Hans Christian Andersen medal for illustration in 1970. In 1983 he won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association.
But it was "Brundibar," a folk tale about two children who need to earn enough money to buy milk for their sick mother that Sendak completed when he was 75, that he was most proud of. "This is the closest thing to a perfect child I've ever had."
Sendak stayed away from the book-signing bandwagon that many other authors use for publicity; he said he couldn't stand the thought of parents dragging children to wait on line for hours to see a little old man in thick glasses.
"Kids don't know about best sellers," he said. "They go for what they enjoy. They aren't star chasers and they don't suck up. It's why I like them."

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Federal Libraries, Archives Shutting Down in Canada
"Transport Canada's library is now closed, too, with seven workers informed Monday their jobs are obsolete. They will now spend months packing up and told CBC News much of the collection will soon be in the trash."

This is all I can think about:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Little Free Libraries

Little library goes by the book
Posted: May 05, 2012, 8:23 am
By Jen Cullen
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
RED WING — The library in front of Robert and Sandy Miller’s home is open 24/7.

No library card is needed to enjoy the modest book collection at 1876 Woodland Drive. There’s no complicated Dewey Decimal system or electronic book catalog to navigate.

You simply open the little library’s door and take a book or leave a book.

That’s the idea behind
Little Free Libraries, a project started in Hudson, Wis., by two men dedicated to promoting literacy and reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.

The simple idea has spread rapidly since the first Little Free Library made its debut. Robert and Sandy Miller’s library — a miniature white house with a red door stacked with 20 to 30 books — is No. 660 of an estimated 1,600 libraries around the world.

A sign on each Little Free Library provides simple instructions: "Take a Book, Leave a Book," though it's not a requirement to do both.

“If you can just get someone to read a book, they will realize what’s in books and they read more,” Robert said. “The more they read, the more they learn.”

Sandy agrees.

Sandy never read books — until she met her husband. Now they both look forward to what their Little Free Library can do for their community.

“You have the world at your fingertips when you read,” she said.

Robert built his Little Free Library a few months ago after seeing a magazine article. An avid woodworker, he figured the project was a perfect way to keep him occupied in his shop.

He and his wife mounted his creation in the front yard, unsure what to expect.

Then the parade of curious people began.

Robert said at least one person stops by each day to either drop off or pick up a book. Most days the library has two or three visitors.

“It has been really neat,” Robert said. “You never know what you’re going to get.”

The Millers stocked their library with books they had around the house. Sandy went to the Salvation Army to round out the collection with children’s books.

The stock in their Little Free Library has become quite diverse during the past few months, with everything from a mystery novel written 80 years ago, to cook books, to sewing instructional guides.

Rick Brooks, Little Free Library co-founder, said he started the project not only to promote literacy, but to foster a sense of community and pride in the neighborhoods where the libraries are built.

“People really identify with giving and sharing with what they think is valuable,” he said. “The builders of these libraries don’t see it as they own it. They see it as it belongs to the neighborhood.”

That might explain why so few reports of vandalism are reported. Brooks said residents take watch over the libraries, ensuring they aren’t damaged. When they are, neighbors repair the libraries quickly.

Brooks said approximately 70 percent to 80 percent of the people who have Little Free Libraries build their own.

Libraries can also be ordered online or donated to those who are financially or physically unable to build their own.

“We did hope it would get this big. It’s been fun,” Brooks said. “In our fondest dreams, this is exactly what we hoped would happen.”

To learn more about how to build a Little Free Library or to locate a library in your area, visit the
Little Free Library website.