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
Roger Sutton

Editor Emeritus Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc., from 1996-2021. 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 MA in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a BA from Pitzer College in 1978.

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