Maurice Sendak and children’s literature

Maurice Sendak, the great children’s author and illustrator, died on Tuesday, May 7. I was asked to write an appreciation of his work for The Post’s Style section and did so. You might enjoy taking a look at it.

At the end of the piece I mention that I pick up Sendak’s books even now, when I’m a long way from being a child. I also still enjoy James Marshall’s stories about the hippos George and Martha. Anything Daniel Pinkwater writes — from “I Was A Second Grade Werewolf” to “The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death” — is a pleasure to read at any age. The older classics, of course, are always kept near at hand: Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, the collected works of E. Nesbit, “The Wind in the Willows,” the fairy tales of Grimm and Andersen.

Do other members of the Reading Room — and I’m presuming most, if not all of you are past 21 — still return to favorite children’s books and authors? Which ones? Why? Are there any that you might especially recommend to the rest of us?

I ask that last question because I never discovered many of the standard American classics — such as “Charlotte’s Web” — until I was grown and had children of my own. As a boy I went pretty quickly from “Curious George” and “Henry Huggins” to The Hardy Boys and Tarzan, missing a lot of good reading as a result.

Finally, I might add that in a lifetime spent with books, the most exhilarating reading in my life occurred when I was between the ages of 10 and 16. But running that golden age a close second were those evening half hours when I read aloud to my children at bedtime.

Please share your thoughts on children’s books and authors.

— Michael Dirda

Get more appreciations of Maurice Sendak at Post Lifestyle

— Obituary: Maurice Sendak dies at 83
— Photos: Sendak’s famed illustrations
— Photos: Sendak through the years
— Quiz: How well do you know Maurice Sendak?
— Video: Remembering Maurice Sendak

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