For a man who never wanted children of his own and didn’t write with children in mind, his children’s book sure did okay, and now an auction will reveal just how valuable it is.
On Jan. 24, the highest bidders at New York’s Swann Auction Galleries will walk away with works by the late author and illustrator, Maurice Sendak. The private collection of the late bookseller, Reed Orenstein, includes an inscribed first edition of Sendak’s 1964 Caldecott-winning “Where the Wild Things Are” (if you’re looking at your bank balance, the pre-sale estimate is $7,000-$15,000). Also a number of sketches and drawings that show how his characters evolved are included in the auction.
Sendak died May 8, 2012 at the age of 83. Over the years, Sendak was interviewed several times on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” and in last year’s remembrance, a 1986 interview with Terry Gross revealed a lot about Sendak’s thoughts on his own childhood: “Being a child was being a creature without power, without pocket money, without escape routes of any kind. So I didn’t want to be a child.”
In a 2012 Globe story, Tom Scocca offered his take on Sendak’s “imaginative genius.” “Sendak’s power was not that his work addressed children’s fear or anger or loneliness, but that it didn’t. He simply took up those things as givens, along with everything else.” “What keeps Maurice Sendak alive, in the hands of young readers and in the minds of readers who’ve grown up, is that a Sendak story doesn’t worry about realism. It addresses children directly, on the terms they understand. Children don’t need precise step-by-step directions to lead them to some distant place in which there are things that act wild. There are simply the Wild Things, and they are there as soon as you open the book.”