“Children make crucial decisions at that point,” he said, “and it happens in the wink of an eye. It’s those crucial seconds when the mother and father can’t watch. This was so absolutely, beautifully, rendered for me when I was very young and I saw ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ There’s a scene that I think was a little bit St. Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus for me. It was near the end of the movie, when Dorothy is imprisoned in the room with the Wicked Witch, and the witch takes the hourglass and turns it over and says: You see that? That’s how much longer you’ve got to be alive.When Disney was planning a quasi-sequel to that movie, the studio hired Sendak to help design it. Ultimately he had little to do with Return to Oz, but he did produce this poster for the publicity campaign. This image is from Surrender Dorothy’s Etsy site.
“And Dorothy says, I’m frightened, I’m frightened, and then the crystal ball shows Auntie Em, and Auntie Em is saying, Dorothy, Dorothy, where are you? and Dorothy hovers over it and says: I’m here in Oz, Auntie Em. I’m locked up in the witch’s castle. Don’t go away, I’m frightened. And I remember that when my sister took me I burst into tears. I knew just what it meant, which was that a mother and child can be in the same room and want to help each other, and they cannot. Even though they were face to face, the crystal ball separated them. Something separates people now and then. And I think it’s that moment that interests me, and compels me.”
Sendak also drew the more cheery cover art for Books of Wonder’s Oz: The Hundredth Anniversary Celebration. But why would the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman have eating utensils?