Sendak, picturing mortality

He’s "a little crotchety with the world," but savors memories of a mural now in Phila.

By Amy S. Rosenberg, Inquirer Staff Writer


A detail of the mural Maurice Sendak created for a Manhattan family. Its new home is the Rosenbach…

‘I’m not feeling great," Maurice Sendak is saying. "I’ve been rather sick, to tell you the truth. I can make believe I’m well."

You can hear it in his voice. Sendak, 82, on the phone from his Connecticut home at 3:30 p.m. Friday (pretty much when the night owl’s workday gets going), sounds gravelly and stuffy.

"I’m old," says the author and illustrator of dozens of children’s books, including Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen. "It could be anything. Who the hell knows?"

Recently a mural Sendak painted in 1961 on a Manhattan apartment wall was cut out (1,400-pound wall and all), transported to Philadelphia, and restored. He says he is very sorry he couldn’t get to Philadelphia this month to see it unveiled in its new home, the Rosenbach Museum and Library on Delancey Street, where his papers, original art, and ephemera are collected. He had wanted to renew his acquaintance with Rosalyn and Lionel Chertoff’s children, for whom he painted it as they "ran in and out of the room."

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