Subscribe to The Horn Book

Review of There’s a Mystery There: The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak

There’s a Mystery There: The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak
by Jonathan Cott
Doubleday    242 pp.
5/17    978-0-385-54043-8    $30.00
e-book ed.  978-0-385-54044-5    $15.99

Cott first interviewed Maurice Sendak for Rolling Stone in 1976 and again for Cott’s book Pipers at the Gates of Dawn (1983), in which the two first discussed Sendak’s Outside Over There, a Caldecott Honor Book, winner of a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, and, according to both Cott and Sendak, the artist’s most significant achievement. While ably sketching Sendak’s life and career in toto, here Cott focuses on Outside Over There, contextualizing his conversations with Sendak among four others: Cott spoke in detail about the book with psychoanalyst Richard M. Gottlieb, Jungian analyst Margaret Klenck, art historian Jane Doonan, and playwright and Sendak collaborator Tony Kushner. While never gaining the wide and lasting appeal of Where the Wild Things Are, Outside Over There is certainly Sendak’s most haunting and richly mysterious book, and Cott’s conversations about it and meditations upon it have both range and significance. Plentifully illustrated with full-color pages from Outside Over There as well as other great moments in Sendak’s work.

From the May/June 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind