The Washington Post

Colbert’s Maurice Sendak tribute: ‘I Am a Pole’ released, coincidentally, on day of author’s death

Maurice Sendak, who died Tuesday at the age of 83, will be remembered for his wit and honesty — thanks in part to his appearance earlier this year on “The Colbert Report.” On the talk show, he lamented the “abysmal” state of children’s literature today and admitted he liked children “as few and far between as I like adults.”

View Photo Gallery: Author of “Where the Wild Things Are” used children’s literature to address the psychological intensity of growing up.

Those episodes also birthed a new children’s book, “I Am a Pole (And So Can You!),” written by the talk show host as an attempt to annoy Sendak. The author of “Where the Wild Things Are” had complained about celebrities’ attempts to write children’s books as a moneymaker.

The book finally made its public debut on Tuesday, the day of Sendak’s death. It was purely a coincidence — the release date was set for May 8 in February, as our Celebritology blog reported.

The book tells the story of a pole trying to find its place in the world — as a ski pole, a Gallup poll, a stripper pole, and finally, as an American flagpole. After a reading of “Pole,” Sendak surprised the TV host saying, “The sad thing is, I like it!”

Colbert returned the compliment to Sendak on his show Tuesday night, saying that the true sad thing was the author’s death. He showed additional clips from their interview, with Sendak talking about his favorite books, and how his stories could be frightening.

“Some people think that is not appropriate for children,” Sendak said. “[But] to suffer pain, read about it, think about it, feel about it, that’s all they do ... I think childhood is a period of great torment.”

More on Maurice Sendak:

Sendak’s ‘Colbert Report’ interview

Maurice Sendak’s legacy lives on in bedtime rituals around the world

Maurice Sendak dies: Obama, others read “Where the Wild Things Are”

Maurice Sendak dies; author and illustrator wrote about children’s survival

View Photo Gallery: A look at some illustrations by the popular children’s book author, who died Tuesday at age 83.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.