Miss Haviland: Is there any point that you would like to make, aside from the questions that have been brought up to you before and which you’ve answered again tonight?
Mr. Sendak: I love my work very much, it means everything to me. I would like to see a time when children’s books were not segregated from adult books, a time when people didn’t think of children’s books as a minor art form, a little Peterpanville, a cutsey-darling place where you could Have Fun, Laugh Your Head Off. I know so many adult writers whom I would happily chop into pieces, who say, “Well I think I’ll take a moment and sit down and knock off a kiddy book! It looks like so much fun, it’s obviously easy…” And, of course, they write a lousy book!
It would be so much better if everyone felt that children’s books are for everybody, that we simply write books, that we are a community of writers and artists, that we are all seriously involved in the business of writing. And if everyone felt that writing for children is a serious business, perhaps even more serious than a lot of other forms of writing, and if when such books are reviewed and discussed, they were discussed on this serious level, and that we would be taken seriously as artists.
I would like to do away with the division into age categories of children over here and adults over there, which is confusing to me and I think probably confusing to children. It’s very confusing to many people who don’t even know how to buy a children’s book. I think if I have any particular hope it’s this: that we all should simply be artists and just write books and stop pretending that there is such a thing as being able to sit down and write a book for a child: it is quite impossible. One simply writes books.
– Questions to an Artist Who Is Also an Author: A Conversation between Maurice Sendak and Virginia Haviland (a public interview at the Library of Congress held in 1971)
(Photo of the Cerritos Millenium Library via Victorrjr’s Flickr.)