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.""
Reviewed on: 08/31/2009 Release date: 09/01/2009 Genre: Nonfiction