Maurice Sendak and the boy who ate a Wild Thing

Maurice Sendak, along with other iconic children's writers and illustrators such as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Tove Jansson, had an important impact on my childhood, and I wanted here to draw parallels between my own work and his illustrations, writing, and wider personal attitudes.

I was an avid reader from a very young age, and many of the books I read as a very young child contained overarching themes of mischievousness and subversions of adult sensibilities. This was probably enhanced by an upbringing imbued with a considerable level of encouraged political dissent and critical thinking. I was a child I think many people considered unusual, and I found my identity inside the pages of Sendak books - most pointedly for me, the "popular and controversial" In the Night Kitchen, in which a boy floats naked into a kitchen at night (or in his dream) and assists in the making of a cake, before arriving back in his bed for the morning.

The dark silliness and natural childish rebellion present in Sendak's stories is an attitude I took to heart as a child, and one that I still keep close. The sense of that respect for oddness and the inventiveness of the child's way of doing things, not yet moulded indo adult ideals, is represented well by the story of a boy who wrote to Sendak, and who ate Sendak's response. Sendak's response to this was as such: "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." (Davies, Luke (December 3, 2011). "Hergé and me"Brisbane Times.)

The limited colours and the dream effect in In the Night Kitchen create a sense of wonder that has never left me. I think some of these elements can be seen in not only my visual work (cartoons of eye-rolling children, sometimes in dim outer space atmospheres), but some of my writing too, possesses slightly darkened, silly humour.

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