Children’s Author & Illustrator Extraordinaire, Maurice Sendak, Passes Away at 83
“Where the Wild Things Are” Among the Works of Legendary Maurice Sendak
Chances are if you’re a parent, you are familiar with the unique and unforgettable work of children’s author and illustrator, Maurice Sendak, and his talent for celebrating “things that go bump in the night,” rather than denying them.
Sendak, the author and illustrator of dozens of children’s books, most notably, "Where the Wild Things Are," died on May 8th at the age of 83, due to complications following a stroke he suffered a few days earlier.
The son of immigrant Polish Jews, Sendak was widely considered to be the most important children’s book illustrator of the 20th century, and his works, both words and drawings, played a vital role in many of those born after 1960, and, ultimately, that generation’s children as well.
In a recent interview, Sendak said he spend much of his childhood in Brooklyn thinking about those youngsters who died during the Holocaust.
Sendak, who did not attend college, became a household name with his 1963 tour de force, “Where the Wild things Are,” which follows the imagination of Max, a young boy who creates a fictional land and creatures during while spending what would today be called a “time-out” in his bedroom.
In 2009, the book, which sold nearly 20 million copies around the world, was turned into a film directed by Spike Jonze.
Among Sendak’s other most popular works are “In the Night Kitchen” (1970) and “Outside Over There” (1981), which together with “Where the Wild Things Are” form a trilogy; “The Sign on Rosie’s Door” (1960); “Higglety Pigglety Pop!” (1967); and “The Nutshell Library” (1962), a boxed set of four tiny volumes comprising “Alligators All Around,” “Chicken Soup With Rice,” “One Was Johnny” and “Pierre.”
In September, a new picture book by Sendak, entitled “Bumble-Ardy” — the first publication in over three decades which Sendak created the text and the illustrations — was issued by HarperCollins Publishers, and enjoyed a nice run of five weeks on the New York Times children’s best-seller list.
A posthumous picture book, “My Brother’s Book” — a poem written and illustrated by Mr. Sendak and inspired by his love for his late brother, Jack — is scheduled to be published next February.
Sendak received numerous honours for his work including the 1964 Caldecott Medal awarded by the American Library Association for “Where the Wild Things Are." Sendak also received the international Hans Christian Andersen medal for illustration in 1970, and the 1983 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association. Former United States President Bill Clinton awarded Sendak a National Medal of the Arts in 1996 for his full body of work.