"FOR BETTY—WHO KNOWS WHAT THIS BOOK IS ALL ABOUT!": THE ANIMAL FAMILY, ILLUSTRATED AND INSCRIBED BY MAURICE SENDAK TO A CLOSE FRIEND AND NEIGHBOR, ACCOMPANIED BY AN ANIMAL FAMILY GREETING CARD WRITTEN AND SIGNED BY SENDAK
(SENDAK, Maurice) JARRELL, Randall. The Animal Family. (New York): Pantheon Books, (1965). Square 12mo, original silver-stamped blue cloth, original dust jacket. $475.
Early edition of this lovely children's book about found family, with seven full-page, black-and-white illustrations and several smaller decorations by Sendak, inscribed to a close friend and neighbor: "For Betty—who knows what this book is all about! Maurice Nov. '75," and accompanied by an Animal Family greeting card inscribed: "Happy Birthday! Maurice."
"Occasionally, very rarely—like the spirit of delight—comes a book that is not so much a book as a kind of visitation. I had not known that I was waiting for The Animal Family, but when it came it was as though I had long been expecting it" (P.L. Travers). This is an early edition, with ISBN on title page unlike the first, but in silverish blue cloth (later editions were in green cloth). See Hanrahan A64. The former owner of this inscribed book and card was Maurice Sendak's neighbor, Andrew, from Ridgefield, Connecticut. Sendak bought a home and studio in Ridgefield in 1972 with his longtime partner, Eugene Glynn, and lived there until his death. Andrew first encountered Sendak in 1975 during one of his daily dog walks. (Sendak owned many dogs throughout his life, and they often starred in his books.) Andrew was immediately taken with Sendak, who reminded him of his recently deceased father. One day, Andrew called Sendak at home and asked if he could join him on his walks. Andrew and Sendak thus embarked on a 37-year friendship that also included the Andrew's mother, Betty, as well as Andrew's brother. Sendak went on long walks and hikes with Andrew and his family regularly, discussing general life events, opera, and books. He also invited them into his studio to show off works in progress. Andrew's mother, Betty, was an avid reader and collector and she and Sendak would talk late into the night about books. Sendak offered Betty advice about how to find and authenticate rare children's books, which she used to build her collection. Additionally, he frequently bartered for autographs (i.e. a cake for an inscribed drawing). In inscriptions, Betty is often referred to as "Elizabeth"; Sendak felt that her name was "common" and didn't suit her. The many inscribed drawings, along with first editions, signed books, limited edition books, and other valuable items grew into one of the country's premier Sendak collections.
Card near-fine, with slight soiling. Book with very light scattered foxing to interior, faintest foxing to cloth, and mild toning to spine, price-clipped dust jacket with a bit of toning to spine. An extremely good inscribed copy.