Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Monday, October 1, 2012
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
In my youth I was a Boy Scout. I earned the rank of Eagle Scout and was elected a member of the Order of the Arrow.
I had long felt Scouting was an excellent program, I learned much which benefitted me in life.
Last month the Boy Scouts reaffirmed a policy which I deem unacceptably out-of-date and prejudicial: a ban on any members, child or parent, who are gay.
I am fortunate to know very many excellent, honorable human beings. Some just happen to be gay. The idea of any of my good friends being excluded from a thing merely because of whom they may fall in love with is appalling to me and at the same time really silly too.
As if we have an excess of love in the world.
Sure, the Scouts are entitled to whatever policy they choose. They are and have always been a private organization, with a long connection to a religious belief system.
Yet for me, so long as they continue to function with what I feel is a dark-ages mentality, so long as their policies are based on mistaken morals, I am compelled to distance myself from the group.
Therefore, I am returning my Eagle Scout medal as a small way of protest. It is in the mail to them, a faded, tarnished symbol of outdated thinking, prejudice and intolerance. It is no longer the badge I earned.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Aaron Renier, Herman, the big man, and myself. Photo by Lynn Caponera.
When I last visited Maurice Sendak, we took his big German Shepard, Herman for a walk, sat on a bench in the woods, and for over two hours discussed how elusive happiness is for an artist, the difficulty in waking our muses, the impossibility of not continuing to always create and express ourselves, the challenge and imperative of being truthful to kids, loss, death, life, beauty. The whole of our love for life and creating.
Maurice talked about the new book he was working on. “It’s about a nose,” he said.
We both felt the idea of dropping dead at our drawing boards to be a pretty acceptable way to go.
And now he is gone.
At a time in my life when I am exploring new ways of communicating, and seeking deeper, more worthy things to communicate, Maurice was to me a shining example of courage and depth and intelligence. I’ve never met anyone more brilliant and intuitive about creating children’s books. As his long time editor Ursula Nordstrom wrote to him: “You have a vast and beautiful genius.”
On that last visit, I presented him with my book PETUNIA GOES WILD, about a little girl frustrated with the limitations and rules that come with being a human child. Petunia decides that being a wild animal would be a more satisfactory way to live and attempts to ship herself somewhere wild and free. Of course, upon reflection, she eventually chooses the certainty and comfort of home and mom, but does manage to create for herself a place where she can express her soul safely.
Maurice read through the book, chuckling in the right places, appreciating this drawing, that phrase. But when he came to the end, he closed the book, looked at me and said only three words: “She didn’t capitulate.”
Typically, Maurice had gone right to the essence of my intention for the book. Instantly and concisely he had unearthed the core. As a book creator, I have had no more deeply satisfying moment than that.
Many of you have seen Stephen Colbert’s interview with Maurice. Yes, Maurice could be delightfully wicked and sharply funny. But he was also a deeply serious, sensitive and generous man. As another Sendak Fellow Antoinette Portis so beautifully described him: “Maurice is the most endearing combination of grouch and Love-bomb.”
Not long ago I talked with Maurice on the phone. He was feeling pretty down, as he had had cataract surgery some days before, and wasn’t healing as quickly as he hoped. But with his wry sense of humor intact, he grumbled to me his plans to sit in a chair in front of his house holding a tin can, asking for change from passers by because he couldn’t see to work.
Dang you, Maurice. How am I to see through these tears?
Monday, April 30, 2012
I am very happy to announce that two new books I have written about a shy little guy named Oliver will be published by Hyperion.
The brilliant and so-nice-to-work-with Rotem Moscovich will be my editor. We’re very near to finishing the first book, OLIVER AND HIS ALLIGATOR, which will be available in the summer of 2013.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books:
Little Petunia (from A Pet for Petunia) would much rather be an animal than a human girl, a preference that she expresses by wearing a tiger tail, roaring at passersby, and pleading with her parents for a cave in which to live. As a compromise, she offers to be their pet, an offer that provokes a page-long parental lecture: “No, you may NOT! Where did you get such an idea? Of all the crazy things! That is NOT how nice little girls behave.” Feeling completely misunderstood, Petunia addresses a packing box to Africa and climbs in, only to have second thoughts when she overhears her mother singing in the kitchen (“Tigers did not sing, thought Petunia. Or tickle at bedtime, neither”), and she decides to stay—but saves the box for moments when she needs a “wild place of her own.” Although the ending is a bit anticlimactic, Petunia’s desire for wildness will be easily understood by kids who have similar trouble containing themselves, and her parents’ overreaction to her behavior will likely resonate with obstreperous youngsters as well.
They’ll also be tickled by her actions, especially when “Petunia, wearing no more than a smile, bathed in a mud puddle.” Schmid’s cheerful, minimalist illustrations (dark pencil occasionally accented with golden orange and periwinkle watercolor) feature scribbly lines in a childlike style against lots of white space. Petunia is irrepressibly jaunty in her striped dress and tiger tail, and she’s as endearing as she is excessive.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Katie Davis's new podcast has a review of Petunia Goes Wild by the amazing Mr Schu, here it is.
ROAR! I've been invited to join the King County Library's Literary Lions Gala March 10! This annual event raises funds for the busiest Library in the entire US. Click on this link to buy tickets for this grand affair featuring Nancy Pearl as emcee, cocktails, a formal dinner, and you can sip champagne whilst I sign my books for you. AND you'll be supporting the library!
I'm looking forward to reading my books to the kids at Lakeview Elementary in Kirkland March 2nd.