Before the movie fades from awareness, let’s look at some not so exalted celebrations of Maurice Sendak’s strangely theatrical Caldecott Medal winning-story, Where the Wild Things Are, opera for toddlers.

From Wikipedia:  “The original concept for the book featured horses instead of monsters. According to Sendak, his publisher suggested the switch when she discovered that Sendak could not draw horses, but thought that he ‘could at the very least draw ‘a thing.’  He replaced the horses with caricatures of his aunts and uncles, whom he had studied critically in his youth as an escape from their weekly visits to his family’s Brooklyn home.”

Children’s author-illustrators  influence our world.  Like a good ghostbuster I have video proof that I’ll share with you now. Monica Kelley posted this clip on her blog,  My Place For Art recently.

It got me looking at more of them.  So next it’s Jammin’s Crazy Chalk Drawings — the Wild Things’ island rendered on a blackboard.


And Max in his boat:

Here’s the Disney version, which luckily the public never saw.  It has Max in his wolf suit, chasing his dog.  Except he scurries around his home and room like one of the baby squirrels from Snow White.

This next one one has feet of clay.  I don’t know what the journalism school students were doing working on this project, but I hope they all got A’s.  I think they captured the true spirit of Max.

Of course the ballet companies pounced on Sendak’s tale that always seemed more suited to set backdrops and dance than words.

These are but a few of the many versions of Max’s odyssey on YouTube. They range in kookiness and fun. They demonstrate how an  artist’s idea can inspire creative interpretations and loving imitations  — in this case, 47 years after the book first rolled off presses at Harper & Row Publishers.

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We had fun at our group call last night in the children’s book illustration class, even if it was a call without sound. We saw some great work by students.  You can learn more about the self-paced online course, Make Your Splashes; Make Your Marks and see some “secret of drawing” videos at this link.

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Author-illustrator and Maurice Sendak admirer Mark Mitchell teaches children’s book illustration at the Austin Museum of Art Art School — and online.

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