In 1979 The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed it to be 'International Year of the Child', in the hopes to raise global awareness about the problems faced by children worldwide, including a lack of access to food and education.
As a result then-First Lady Rosalynn Carter held the first National 'Reading is Fun' Day in January, in conjunction with Reading is Fundamental, Inc., whose mission remains today to foster a culture of literacy for children and families nationwide.
Renowned author and illustrator Maurice Sendak was commissioned to create an original illustration to mark the occasion. "Reading is Fun!" was incorporated into a large poster celebrating the joy of reading, with the title of both the illustration and cause at the bottom.
Freeman’s is honored to present this original watercolor in its Dec. 3 American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists sale.
The watercolor depicts the characters of Sendak’s popular "Where the Wild Things Are," still easily recognizable even 16 years after its publication. The young boy Max reads a copy of the book in which he appears, while two of the titular "wild things," Moishe and Bernard, are ready to devour a stack of tomes, including Randolph Caldecott's Picture Books (the 19th-century illustrator for whom the award was named), Grimm's Fairy Tales and a book of nursery rhymes.
A marked tone of whimsy in the work is evident as each subject, including the smiling crescent moon, delights in a book, echoing and inspiring the sentiments of the piece's title.