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Taming Wild Things

29 May 2017

Certainly we want to protect our children from new and painful experiences that are beyond their emotional comprehension and that intensify anxiety; and to a point we can prevent premature exposure to such experiences. That is obvious. But what is just as obvious - and what is too often overlooked - is the fact that from their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions, that fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives, that they continually cope with frustration as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming Wild Things. It is my involvement with this inescapable fact of childhood - the awful vulnerability of children and their struggle to make themselves King of All Wild Things - that gives my work whatever truth and passion it may have...

Truthfulness to life - both fantasy life and factual life - is the basis of all great art...

During my early teens I spent hundreds of hours sitting at my window, sketching neighborhood children at play. I sketched and listened, and those notebooks became the fertile field of my work later on. There is not a book I have written or a picture I have drawn that does not, in some way, owe them its existence.

Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of Where the Wild things Are, in his 1964 Caldecott Medal Acceptance Speech for that book.