“My sister bought me my first book, The Prince and the Pauper. A ritual began with that book which I recall very clearly. The first thing was to set it up on the table and stare at it for a long time. Not because I was impressed with Mark Twain; it was just such a beautiful object. Then came the smelling of it. I think the smelling of books began with The Prince and the Pauper, because it was printed on particularly fine paper, unlike the Disney books I had gotten previous to that, which were printed on very poor paper and smelled poor. The Prince and the Paper–Pauper– smelled good and it also had a shiny cover, a laminated cover. I flipped over that. And it was very solid. I mean, it was bound very tightly. I remember trying to bite into it, which I don’t imagine is what my sister intended when she bought the book for me. But the last thing I did with the book was to read it. It was alright.
“But I think it started then, a passion for books and bookmaking. I wanted to be an illustrator very early in my life; to be involved in books in some way–to make books. And the making of books, the touching of books–there’s so much more to it than just reading; there is a sensuousness. I’ve seen children touch books, fondle books, smell books, and it’s all the reason in the world why books should be beautifully produced.”
Maurice Sendak, 1970