An absolute legend in the field of illustrated children's books, most notably, "Where the Wild Things Are," Sendak had a long and prosperous career capturing the imaginations of children and adults everywhere with his prose and art.
Before his death however, Sendak was hard at work on his final book, released posthumously on Feb. 5.; "My Brother's Book," a beautiful and haunting elegy to his brother Jack, who died in 1995.
The brothers did collaborate on two books together, "The Happy Rain," and "Circus Girl," and the loss of his brother hit Sendak extremely hard.
In an interview on National Public Radio with Tony Kushner, a longtime friend of Sendak, Kushner revealed how the creation of Sendak's final book started.
"It's a poem that [Sendak] wrote and then kept in his drawer, waiting for what he felt would be the right time to turn it into a book," said Kushner. Sensing his own end was near, Sendak went to work to amaze the world one last time.
With the first page opening with, "On a bleak midwinter's night / The newest star!-blazing light! / So crystal bright!-eclipsing the moon, / Scorching the sky, / Smashed!-and heaved the iron earth in two," you are immediately hooked and craving more of the accompanying prose and art.
By the end of the book you will want to go back and reread it again, for each time you will absorb something new to enjoy while simultaneously warming your heart.
The 24-page illustrated book tells the story of Guy and Jack, who represent the Sendak brothers, as they are separated when the Earth splits in two.
Jack is catapulted into ice and remains there, while Guy lands in Bohemia and starts his 5 year long search for his lost brother.
Searching far and wide, Guy crosses paths with a gigantic bear (symbolizing death) and comes to the conclusion that the only way to find Jack is to dive into the bear's belly, which leads to the underworld, and continue his search.
In the end, Guy and Jack are reunited and transform into magnificent trees, as they fade away into their dreams, forever together once more. A tragic yet loving tale, it certainly packs quite the emotional punch for such a short story.
Combining a marvelous mixture of Shakespeare, William Blake and bits of Sendak's own previous works, "My Brother's Book" is a wonderful short story to celebrate the fantastic life and prestigious career of Maurice Sendak.
The art style and watercolors are fascinating to look at, and yet go together perfectly with the words on the opposite pages.
While not aimed specifically to children like his other books, "My Brother's Book" does a great job conveying Sendak's own good-bye to his grown-up audience.
He reminds us of all the good feelings we initially felt when reading one of his books for the first time those many years ago ("Chicken Soup with Rice" was mine) and will continue to read to our own children one day.
A titan in his field, Maurice Sendak will always remain in our hearts and in our active imaginations.