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Making Mischief: A Maurice Sendak Appreciation Hardcover – September 15, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book Description

The New York Times bestselling author of Wicked presents an inspired visual tribute to the work of legendary writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak

Published in 1963 to great critical acclaim, Maurice Sendak's Caldecott Award-winning Where the Wild Things Are has sold millions of copies worldwide, garnered countless awards, and been translated into nineteen languages. In Making Mischief, Gregory Maguire reconsiders Sendak's oeuvre with the same adroit and idiosyncratic scrutiny that allowed him to see a heroine in the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked) and add a charming dimension to the story of the Little Match Girl (Matchless).

An accomplished critic with signal reviews published in the New York Times Book Review and lectures on art delivered at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and at other locations, Maguire examines Sendak's aesthetic influences from William Blake to Walt Disney, revealing the "conversations"—often unconscious and unspoken—that artists have with one another. A master of literary invention himself, Maguire explores recurring motifs in Sendak's life work—from monsters to mayhem—as well as his profound understanding of children, their creativity, and the breadth of emotions with which they encounter the world.

Making Mischief is a gift of the imagination to Maurice Sendak, one of the master mythmakers of our time.

A Look Inside Making Mischief
(Click on Images to Enlarge)

Introduction Blake's Influence
Other Influences Oliver Hardy vs. Buster Keaton

From Publishers Weekly

This refreshing gallery of illustrations, developed for a 2003 conference on Sendak, comes with an enthusiastic, expert docent. Maguire, a children's book authority and the author of Wicked (the basis for the hit musical), is an unabashed fan and friend, recounting his fortuitous first meeting with the maestro in 1977. Maguire arranges a bounty of favorite or rare illustrations into five playful and accessible essays. While constructing a "palace of muses" who influence Sendak, he offers wonderful side-by-side comparisons of Sendak's work and pieces by William Blake, Randolph Caldecott and Reginald Birch (a 1900 sketch of a boy in a wolf suit prefigures the artist's wild children). Maguire situates Sendak in children's literature history, revisiting figures profiled in Sendak's Caldecott & Co. and reproducing sequential plates from William Nicholson's seldom-seen The Pirate Twins and cartoonist Wilhelm Busch's 19th-century Max und Moritz. In the spirit of Sendak's "graphic anarchy" and theatrical composition of "the page as a stage," Maguire takes creative license too. He groups the materials thematically rather than chronologically, lists ten absolute must-haves to "drag from a burning museum," and-in a strangely thrilling capstone-recasts the familiar text of Where the Wild Things Are with alternative Sendak illustrations. This fitting and witty homage gives ample evidence for Maguire's contention that "the word genius isn't grade inflation."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061689165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061689161
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #528,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kort TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Almost everyone is familiar with Maurice Sendak's Wild Things, but are you familiar with the inspirations behind the creative genius? In this masterfully crafted presentation, brilliant critic and author Gregory Maguire offers a unique analytical overview of the artwork that is signature Sendak. Maguire exudes an honest passion for Sendak's work: He carefully draws comparisons between the offerings of visual narrative masters of the 19th to early 20th century (i.e. Randolf Caldecott) with that of Sendak's visions. I myself didn't realize the extent of influence that the golden age illustrators and the theatrical presentations of the early 19th century had on Sendak's work. This revelation has elevated my appreciation for an elusive artist who forever transformed children's literature with his beloved 'Where the Wild Things Are'. We are also treated to brief glimpses of a man who is famously private and grouchy--yet depicts children with full emotional poignancy. "Most fundamental to Sendak's work, for over 50 years, is his trust in the emotions of children." (p. 95)

Sendak was not afraid to confine his drawings--often compacting his settings in a style that is reminiscent of a stage. He focused on the characters, their gesticulations, and the idea of transformation and transcendance. Much like the cluttered studio he apparently worked in, once at the drawing table, his creative oasis transformed into a magical forest filled with endless imagination. "The page is a stage" and this book does an excellent job providing page-turning enticements, revealing a broad spectrum of styles and techniques that Sendak explored over his lifetime. The book is written with a rehearsed scholastic tongue peppered with some heavy-handed language/references that may be off-putting for some.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm of two minds dueling when it comes to Making Mischief: A Maurice Sendak Appreciation. On the one hand, Gregory Maguire has put together an amazingly thoughtful look at Sendak's art through illumination of his influences and homages. The book is a very insightful one-sided conversation that seeks to deconstruct and learn from the oeuvre of an artist. It opens the topic of how artists communicate with each other subconsciously through their work with borrowed imagery, casting, and outright theft (by hook or by crook.) On the other hand it reads very much like (I imagine) the presentation it originated as during a symposium that also included Sendak's May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture at MIT. It doesn't seek to be authoritative, instead it's only Maguire's impressions and observations, and because of this is feels sort of like half a book. It's very subjective and in a way it pushes Sendak as the subject out of the books focus and pulls Maguire's own observations into the spotlight.

My first impression of Maguire's Sendak Appreciation is tinged with a bit of frustration in that it's yet another example of a trend in publishing these days that tends to irk me, repurposing. The first chapter reads like an extended apology, absolving the writer for his choice of focus and perspective; deciding to cover Sendak's body of as a whole, his influences, and considering a through-line or encompassing theme, yet also deciding to ignore much of what's already been written about the man's work. Maguire chose instead to stick to his own revelations and the connections he made to others' art, which is an interesting and personal approach for the presentation/talk he gave at MIT. Making Mischief is derived from that presentation, and in this repurposing it suffers a bit in its own indulgence.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The safe feeling of sitting on my mom's lap, feeling and hearing her voice as she read aloud to me, is one of my fondest memories. "Where the Wild Things Are" came into my life before kindergarten, with its roars of terrible roars and gnashing of terrible teeth, and the ritual hug my mom gave me at the end of each reading. Too lively for a bedtime story, it was an after-dinner, before you brush your teeth kind of book. And I can't imagine childhood without it.

Maurice Sendak has dedicated more than a half-century of his life to weaving tales for children, honoring his audiences and his muses alike by crafting works that stoically stand up to the passage of time, and bring delight to his readers the 10th or 100th time through.

While some serious or highly regarded writers and illustrators may shy away from writing for children, much less choose to devote their careers to this niche, Sendak has been one who had faith in his generations of youthful readers and felt that they deserved the best stories he could provide. He also accords his audience the respect of recognizing the reality of their lives, not sugar-coating or minimizing -- or thinking that they wouldn't appreciate the classic lines of earlier art. Truly, even though he realized his younger readers would not recognize these sources of inspiration, he obviously thought they would feel the emotion and elemental forces of such works. This is why members of my generation, who grew up with his works, savor the comfort of visiting old friends and half-forgotten dreams when reading these stories to the next generation, even as we recognize nuances, artistic echoes and homages our young minds hadn't yet learned as children.
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