Maurice Sendak recently came to our attention when he awesomely told Newsweek that parents who think the "Where the Wild Things Are" film may be too scary
can "go to hell," following up by saying, "If they [kids] can't handle it, go home. Or wet your pants. Do whatever you like. But it's not a question that can be answered."
Really, Mo? Telling parents, the people who buy your books, to go to hell and piss their pants? That's pretty ballsy for a guy in the same line of work as Mother Goose.
You'd think the authors of some of the most beloved children's books of all time would be sweet, shuffling, timid men with elbow patches and pockets full of lollipops. But when we looked into this phenomenon a little more closely, we found that not only does Mr. Sendak have a bit of a prickly history, so too do some of his contemporaries.
Aside from just hating parents, Sendak's first major success, "In the Night Kitchen" created a huge brouhaha
because the main character, Mickey, appears buck-naked. And if a naked 4-year-old was a huge deal in 1970, could you imagine what would happen today?
Sendak even managed to alienate himself from his own family. The story goes that Sendak modeled one of the ugliest characters in "Wild Things" after his uncle who once pissed him off as a child. Kindly, Sendak wrote the uncle a letter
to let him know this little fact.
Sendak also came out as a gay man at the age of 80
after living an entire life in secret. We like to think this was one last "screw you" to the people who still want his books banned after all these years. Shel Silverstein
You know The 'Stein, author of "Where the Sidewalk Ends" wrote some bafflingly good kid's poems, but did you know he also rocked out? Shel penned "A Boy Named Sue" and "25 Minutes to Go" for Johnny Cash
, won a Grammy for "Sue," and was posthumously inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002. One of Shel's more badass tunes, for Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, was called "Don't Give a Dose to the One You Love Most
" and was a cautionary tale about the dangers of venereal disease. Oh, so that's what happens when the "missing piece" meets the "big O." Kinky, Shel.
Silverstein was a control freak about his work
, so much so he even demanded to choose the size, shape, color, and quality of the paper on which his poems and stories were to be published. He left behind some fantastic sound bites and interviews
that gave a peek into his unusual psyche. Where does the sidewalk end? None of your G-D business. Next question! Roald Dahl
Before becoming a best-selling author and giving the world Willy Wonka (the Gene Wilder version -- that Johnny Depp thing never happened), Dahl flew fighter planes for the Royal Air Force in World War II
. He was shot down in the desert in Libya, had half his head burned off and still managed to survive.
Throw in the fact he was a monster at 6-foot-6 and admitted to being an agent for MI-6, the British Foreign Intelligence Service
, and his cred as a badass is hard to dispute.
So which author is the biggest badass? Vote in the poll and let us know what you think.