The Buzz

Memories of Maurice Sendak's Really Rosie

Categories: Books, Live Performance, Music, Television

You know those songs, movies or stories that take you right back to being a kid? Those invoking the tastes, the feelings, the smells of that precise time and place in your childhood when you first heard, watched or read them?

For me, it's Really Rosie. I can still recite every single word from this musical by the amazing Carole King and, until yesterday, I hadn't realized she had written it with Maurice Sendak.

I spent Tuesday working on Sendak's obituary for CBC-TV and, with his death, rediscovered lesser known works, like Really Rosie. Where the Wild Things Are is naturally getting a lot of the attention -- and it's well deserved -- but if you haven't already, just wait until you check out this 70s-era gem.

Now, of course, it makes sense to me that Sendak wrote Really Rosie. Listen in and you'll find the darkly comical tales for which Sendak is known sitting inside King's catchy melodies.

It's a hot summer day on Avenue P in Brooklyn and Rosie, who wants to be a star, has a lot of stories to share. You likely won't be surprised to find out Rosie is really bossy, or that she sings a song -- aptly named The Ballad of Chicken Soup -- where she imagines her little brother choking to death on a bone. Then, there's Pierre, who just doesn't care about anything until he is eaten by a lion -- no sugar coating here.

Rosie, her brother and her friends on that Brooklyn block kept me and my friends company for years. At summer camp, we mounted Really Rosie on stage annually, with everyone fighting for the coveted role of the headstrong lead character.

Being a kid can be scary, messy, complicated, confusing -- and yet still fun. Little Rosie -- in her huge floppy hat -- reflected this for me. Thank you, Mr. Sendak.

"I am Really Rosie and I'm Rosie Real. You better believe me, I'm a great big deal. Believe me!"

--Ilana Banks

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