16.4.08

Boisterous Children

There's a really excellent article by Jonathan Jones over at the Guardian. It has the enviable title of "Wild Things, I Think I Love You." (Thanks to the wildly loveable Betsy Bird over at Fuse #8 for the link).

Jones makes an interesting connection in reference to the illustration style employed by Sendak:

At first sight it might seem Max, the hero, is a bad boy pure and simple. We first meet him wearing a white wolf suit, banging a nail in a wall with a hammer almost as big as he is; on the next page he's chasing a dog with a fork. But the style reveals something else. Sendak deploys deep perspectives and immaculate hand-drawn cross-hatching recognisably derived from Hogarth, whose art also happens to be full of joyous, naughty, boisterous children - children of nature in the language of the 18th century.

I had to go look for myself:



And look, there's Max's great-great granddaddy banging his drum.

I'd recommend that anyone truly wild for Sendak goes out and finds a copy of a book called A Caldecott Celebration: Seven Artists and Their Paths to the Caldecott Medal by Leonard S. Marcus (just published in a 10th anniversary edition). Somewhat lifeless title but a fascinating book. Good stuff here for fans of William Steig, Chris Van Allsburg, Robert McCloskey and others, but the real prize in the kinderegg for me was the inclusion of photos of the early (1955) dummy for Where The Wild Horses Are, Sendak's original conception for the book and the 1963 palm-sized dummy for Where the Wild Things Are.

You can see pics of both over here at a page belonging to Wally Hastings filled with great stuff on Sendak. As for me, I'm off to wander around on Marcus's site and make a list of things I need to have. More later.

[Two minutes later.] Okay, that didn't take me long. Having recently finished Marcus's bio of Margaret Wise Brown, Awakened By the Moon, I'd already been planning on hunting down a copy of Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom, but this I really, really need: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll; illustrated with photographs by Abelardo Morell; introduction by Leonard S. Marcus. I think you need this one too - take a look at the photo-illustrations here and tell me I'm wrong. The Morell book titled A Book of Books is a real treasure too.

2 comments:

Fuse #8 said...

Wildly loveable, eh? Shucks. Awful kind of you to say.

O'Leary said...

Well, you know it's hard not to go weak in the knees over someone who actually cares so much about children's books and spends so much time writing such insightful, thoughtful reviews (hmm, is insightful actually a word?). And I know I'm not the only one who thinks so.