The Master of Arts in Children’s Literature (MACL) program is pleased to pay tribute to the late children’s book writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak by hosting a symposium in his honour on Friday, March 1st. The day will include talks from visiting Dodson Professor Helene Høyrup; Shannon Ozirny, head of the West Vancouver Memorial Library Youth Department; award-winning author/illustrator and adjunct professor Kathryn Shoemaker; and Rhea Tregebove, Associate Professor of Creative Writing at UBC. There will also be a reading by Dr. Eric Meyers and book talks by Christianne Hayward of Christianne’s Lyceum of Literature and Art.
The MACL program has scheduled its regular biennial conference for spring of 2014, but in light of Sendak’s passing in May of last year, several students did not want to wait until then to recognize Sendak’s legacy in the library and literary worlds. This year also marks 50 years since the publication of Sendak’s most popular work, the Caldecott-Award-winning Where the Wild Things Are (1963), and the posthumous release of My Brother’s Book. Speaking to Sendak’s enduring influence and widespread popularity, response from recruited participants and attendees of the Sendak Symposium has been enormously positive: All invited speakers accepted the request to participate, and reservations for attending the symposium sold out in three days. “It’s become this beautiful event that everyone is happy with,” says Aline Frederico, who initially thought of the idea to hold an event focused on Sendak’s work. “As the only Master’s program in children’s literature [in the country], we thought we should pay tribute.” Of Sendak’s unique significance MACL program chair Judith Saltman says, “He was the first picturebook creator to base books on children’s emotions in a way that no one had truly done before: through the lens of fantasy, which he said was appealing to inchoate emotion. He really touched children’s minds and hearts.”
Administered by SLAIS, the interdisciplinary MACL program draws additional curriculum subject matter from the university’s Creative Writing program and the Departments of English and Language and Literacy Education.