At the time, the idea of putting a children’s author known for giving free rein to his dark side in the room with a famously irreverent late-night host seemed like a recipe for a prickly interview. But in hindsight, this face-off between Maurice Sendak and Stephen Colbert was a match made in comedy heaven. And after the beloved children’s author died on May 8 at age 83, it’s the interview NewsFeed will always remember him by.
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Sendak, who appeared frail and spoke slowly, maintained his passion for the complexity of children until his death. But while his books focused on the tribulations of childhood, he highlighted to Colbert that his works were for all ages. “I don’t write for children. I write,” he said. The author of 17 children’s books (and the illustrator of dozens of others) couldn’t bring himself to agree with Colbert’s professed dislike of children, but he remained gracious: “It’s an interesting point of view,” he said. “But it’s not interesting to me.” When Colbert questioned Sendak about the “wild rumpus” line in Where the Wild Things Are, he gave an answer that many kids wouldn’t understand and many parents would be distraught by. But that was the magic of Sendak: just like our dreams, his works brought us beyond mere words or pictures to a place deep within our own thoughts.
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Part 2 of Sendak’s interview with Colbert
WATCH: President Obama’s Dramatic Reading of Where the Wild Things Are