But, as I say, I found no Maurice Sendak books in my shop last week. This is the nature of dealing with used books (the majority of my business): every day is potluck.
Then Peter Sieruta of “Collecting Children’s Books” gave me a broad hint, something I should have remembered myself, which is that over the years Sendak illustrated many books written by other authors. I raced to the shelves, and sure enough—there was an old library copy of The Singing Hill, by Meindert DeJong, illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
And look at this dedication:
Peter Sieruta had written that Sendak’s early book illustrations were in various different styles, so I was pleased to see that for this book by DeJong the style of the drawings was recognizably and distinctly Sendak. What is decidedly un-Sendak is this author’s story. Adults in The Singing Hill are comforters and protectors. Here is the main character, little Ray (not yet school age), first with his mother (left), then with his father (below).
Naturally, Ray harbors secret worries from time to time. What child does not? His older brother and sister’s squabbling and teasing and tall tales feed some of his worries, while others arise simply from the situation of the moment, and there are adventures and secrets galore in the family's new life in the country, but along the way and in the end Ray’s parents come through for him.
This little book pleases me. It pleases me that the author dedicated it to the illustrator and that Sendak, exercising his always-wild imagination, was able to create these loving family portraits. He did, after all, have a lot of love in his life. He loved life, and life loved him back.