A Sendak Museum?

Three years after Maurice Sendak’s death, his western Connecticut hometown of Ridgefield is pursuing a museum honoring the author of “Where the Wild Things Are.” The town has its sights on a vacant modernist building in walking distance from the village center, a glass structure designed by acclaimed architect Philip Johnson as corporate offices for an oil exploration company that left in 2006.

A panel of local arts figures recently received endorsement from the town and Sendak’s foundation to explore the proposal. Members say they have found overwhelming support for the idea to honor a man whose influence went far beyond that of a children’s book author. “The fact is, he loved the community, and the legacy of supporting all the arts was and is important to him and all those around him,” said Lloyd Taft, a local architect.

Sendak, who died in May 2012 at the age of 83, was born in New York City but spent the last four decades of his life in rural Ridgefield. Best known for the tale of naughty Max in “Wild Things,” his work included other standard volumes in children’s bedrooms such as “Chicken Soup With Rice,” a book about the different months in a year, and “Brundibar,” a folk tale about two children who need to earn enough money to buy milk for their sick mother. He also illustrated his own work, created costumes for ballets and staged operas, including the Czech opera “Brundibar.”

His 18th-century farmhouse is being preserved as Sendak left it. “That is going to stay just the way it is and be a study center and a place for scholars, artists and others to see how Sendak worked during his lifetime,” said Donald Hamburg, a New York attorney who is a member of the Maurice Sendak Foundation’s board.

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Bookish Movies

Movies have a bookish vibe this year.

This year’s films centered on works from literary giants. But here’s a book/movie connection we’ve not yet pondered: Beasts of the Southern Wild seems wildly influenced by Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.” Both have young, strong-willed protagonists and feature fantastical creatures. And both understand there’s nothing trivial about growing up.

As we know, Max meets wild things who roar and gnash their teeth, but he tames them by staring straight into their eyes. Beast’s Hushpuppy is confronted with a hurricane that unleashes ancient beasts that hunt for her. Yet, when they find her, she conquers them with an unwavering glare.

So much to contemplate, so tune into my show, the Book Report. Or check my website, www.bookreportradio.com for current and past shows. And find The Book Report on iTunes! http://buff.ly/11F7H0w  . Podcasts of every show are available, subscribe & receive all new shows.

2012 Goodbyes

There were some sad goodbyes in 2012.

The book world lost its share of superstars last year, including: Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451; Irish novelist Maeve Binchy, whose final book, “A Week in Winter”  hit the shelves, Mexican intellectual Carlos Fuentes; Helen Gurley Brown, Nora Ephron and Gore Vidal.

Young Adult readers had to bid farewell to Jan Berenstain, who, along with husband Stan, packed a lifetime of lessons into a beloved family of bears; Maurice Sendak, who taught us NOT to be afraid of monsters, and astronaut Sally Ride, who made science come alive in her nonfiction books.

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