Why Picture Books Are Important
One of my earliest summer memories is of sitting on the carpeted floor of a bookstore and pouring over Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1963). I was wearing a leotard and tights (no doubt just before or after a dance class) and I wanted that book. The bookseller tried to explain to my mother that it was considered quite wonderful, despite the alarming-looking illustrations and cranky child protagonist.
I don’t know if the bookseller cited its history of acclaim or profound impact on youth literature. But my mother still said no, mentioning something about it not being a good fit for good little girls. That part I remember. It was so important that I be a good little girl.
For weeks, my fingers itched for the story. Finally, it was time to go back to school. Upon my arrival in the library, I ran for Sendak’s masterpiece. And fell more deeply in love.
I was never a Wild Thing like Max. I was a good little girl.
I also grew up to become both a picture book writer and a horror novelist.
I write about some very wild things. And my mother is very proud of that.
-Cynthia Leitich Smith
About Cynthia Leitich Smith
Cynthia Leitich Smith is the bestselling and award-winning author of such picture books as Jingle Dancer, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (Morrow, 2000) and Holler Loudly, illustrated by Barry Gott (Dutton, 2010) as well as the Tantalize series for teens (Candlewick, 2007-). She makes her home in sunny Austin, Texas and is well known for her popular children’s literature blog, Cynsations: http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/ You can also find her on the web at www.cynthialeitichsmith.com.