Remembering Maurice Sendak and 'Little Bear'

Yahoo Contributor Network

Yahoo! News asked readers to reflect on the passing of Maurice Sendak. Here is one fan's appreciation.

Maurice Sendak's death on May 8, is going to mean you will be hearing the words "Where the Wild Things Are" maybe more than you might want. I want to carve out a little space in the remembrance of this brilliant author/illustrator that focuses on "Maurice Sendak's Little Bear."

Else Holmelund Minarik wrote the books that Sendak illustrated. Sendak's celebrity was used to market the adaptation of the books into an animated series that aired on Nickelodeon in the late 1990s. I fondly recall that cartoon because in the late 1990s my first child and I became addicted to "Maurice Sendak's Little Bear." He is a hulking teenager today, but we still enjoy the sight of Sendak's instantly identifiable style of illustrating the animal inhabitants of this show.

Sendak's illustration models for the title character, his family and friends like Duck, Cat, Emily and even the interminably irritating Mitzi the chimp contain his usual mixture of soft edges within the hard lines of reality. The combination of Sendak's portraiture that is unusually complex for daytime children's programming, the hypnotic musical score that easily brings sleep to a tiring toddler and the hysterically funny humor that permeates the show made "Maurice Sendak's Little Bear" as solid and indefatigable a part of the memory of my son's childhood for both himself and for me as any other element from that period.

Duck remains our favorite character to this day because of the heightened humor delivered by the voice actor who brought her to life. Take away that spark of life and what you have left is the animation created by Sendak. Something truly special is at work in the artistic modeling of the characters on "Little Bear" that sets it leagues apart from its peers.

Watch it with your kids.

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