You have had dreadful thoughts of me - no doubt! The Barn came weeks ago - & I haven’t been able to write. Please forgive me. The book is terrific & how marvelous that it is all you! That is as it should be. I think it has some of your finest drawings. Thank you so much.He also - very candidly - explained the delay:
My summer was horrible. My mother, who was ill for two years, died at the end of August. It was ghastly. And my father came all to pieces. The last two months have been taken up with trying to keep him alive. He is in the hospital now - & has an operation coming next week. Of course I haven’t worked. Although - over the last two weeks I found myself wanting to draw again! Hopeful. I’m dreadfully sorry I couldn’t go up to the Bronx Zoo & see your pictures. I would have loved that. But, quite literally, my life hasn’t been my own - & there was no possibility. I hope I can see them - I really hope they all sold! but I’d like very much to see what you’re doing. When all is quiet & somewhat sane again - let’s make plans to meet.I’m not sure if they ever met again, though they did make a plan the following March. Sendak’s subsequent letters, however, show that a sort of misunderstanding arose over their respective depictions of skunks (in The Barn and The Dangerous Year, illustrated by my father, and in A Kiss For Little Bear, illustrated by Sendak. More on that later). But despite their differences and strong opinions I think they had a real respect for each other’s work and, for better or worse, they weren’t afraid to speak their minds. I like how Sendak closes the letter I’ve quoted here:
I feel bad about not having written to you - I really do. But you will understand. Write when you can.