Yesterday’s book industry news announced the passing of beloved children’s author Maurice Sendak as well as this year’s winners of the Children’s Choice Book Awards. I was reminded of the ways we’re connected to authors and their works that change our lives and influence our culture, and how valuable those connections truly are.

Jeff Kinney, creator of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, wildly popular among the middle school set, won the Author of the Year award after being nominated all five years of the award’s existence. His series stars the gangly, under-sized weakling sharing the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. Many of us can certainly relate.

Brian Selznick won this year’s Illustrator of the Year award for his illustrations in Wonderstruck. At an author’s breakfast at BookExpo America last year, Brian (a former children’s bookseller at Eeyore’s Bookstore in Manhattan), came to the stage sporting red shoes and showed us slides of his apartment where hundreds of illustrations from the book decorated the walls of his studio. We were, in a word, wonderstruck – not only by the story-line, but also by the time and effort that went in to the creation of such richly nuanced drawings.

Maurice Sendak's beloved Where the Wild Things Are

Then there’s Maurice Sendak. Looking back on his life, we can say that this amazing soul touched many lives with his magnificent and timeless works. I remember hearing him talk about his painful childhood and how those memories still lingered. Where the Wild Things Are expressed that common fear of what’s under the bed — and gave us permission to face our fears. Maurice Sendak will live on through the wonderful books he left us.

It’s no wonder that people continue to be drawn to the book industry, whether as an author, publisher, or bookseller. One thing is for certain – there’s a place for everyone and a book that has the potential to make a lasting impression.