8 December, 2021

LitStaff Pick: The Most Memorable Literary Moments of 2012

May 2012 struck a particularly hard blow to the world of children’s http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/8/8d/Where_The_Wild_Things_Are_(book)_cover.jpg/300px-Where_The_Wild_Things_Are_(book)_cover.jpgliterature. Three well-known children’s writers/illustrators died that month.

Likely the most well-known was Maurice Sendak, of Where the Wild Things Are fame.  In addition to writing and illustrating children’s books, Sendak designed sets for many operas and ballets. He worked with Jim Henson and was instrumental in the development of Sesame Street. Interestingly, Sendak collaborated with Tony Kushner, an author/playwright from my hometown of Lake Charles, Louisiana, who is currently in the news for writing the screenplay for the movie “Lincoln,” now in theaters. Sendak illustrated and Kushner wrote a new English version of the Czech composer Hans Krása’s children’s Holocaust opera Brundibár. The book was named one of the New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Illustrated Books of 2003. Sendak died May 8 at the age of 83.

Jean Craighead George wrote over 100 young adult novels but is most known for her Newbury winning story Julie of the Wolves and the Newbury Honor Book My Side of the Mountain and its sequel On the Far Side of the Mountain. I loved her books because they were all about nature, set in the outdoors, telling tales of impossible adventures and survival. George was the keynote speaker at a conference I attended several years ago. I hung on her every word, and what I most remember were her humorous anecdotes about her family’s pet crow. Ms. George died May 15, age 92.

I also saw Leo Dillon at a conference in 2002. He illustrated children’s books with his wife Diane. They talked and joked onstage together and described how they collaborated on books, running up and down the stairs that separated their offices in their home. They won two consecutive Caldecott Medals for Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears and Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions. The former sits on my bookshelf, along with the hilarious Pish, Posh, Hieronymus Bosch, both signed by the couple. He died May 26, age 79.

-Angie Dilmore

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