Maurice Sendak's Acceptance Speech

In the words of the announcement honouring me with this astonishing award I am praised as having ‘produced books for children of absolutely the highest artistic quality and in the humanistic spirit associated with Astrid Lindgren’. The words ‘humanistic spirit’ move me most. To be praised for my life-long devotion to children, defence of children and the entwining of my name with that of Astrid Lindgren gives me the deepest pleasure - with perhaps just the slightest twinge of guilt. That shadow of guilt come from my absolute certainty that my battle for the rights and privileges of children has been my personal battle since my own long ago childhood. Simply, that I have spent my life doing the only thing I was prepared and able to do. There was no other way I could have gone.

This award comes to me at a most fortuitous time in my life. I will be 75 years old in just a few days’ time and the reason I cannot be with you today is that this week marks the end of a project that has taken up the better part of five years, an opera called Brundibar, which opens in Chicago on June 4. It is an opera composed and designed to be sung by children for children – an opera
which was performed in a Nazi concentration camp in the early 1940’s.

How glorious that the Astrid Lindgren award coincides with the completion of Brundibar. I feel blessed, proud and even cautiously, joyful. Thank you!