Remembering Maurice Sendak
The world says goodbye to a creator of children’s classics
Sendak decided to become an illustrator at age 12. (Top: AP Photo; Bottom: HarperCollins / AP Images)
The popular children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak died on Tuesday at age 83. He is known as one of the most famous voices in children’s literature.
Sendak wrote and illustrated dozens of books for young people. His best-known is Where the Wild Things Are, published in 1963. The book follows a boy named Max, who becomes the king of an island where wild monsters live, but gets lonely and returns home to his family.
Children born in the last half-century grew up with Max and other characters from Sendak classics like Chicken Soup With Rice and Pierre—about a little boy who constantly said, “I don’t care!”
Sendak grew up in Brooklyn, New York. At age 12, after watching the animated movie Fantasia, he decided he wanted to become an illustrator. He learned to draw largely on his own.
Sendak’s books became famous for characters like Max who are proud and troublesome, and who often need to learn a lesson or two before the stories end. In his books, parents and kids alike can behave badly, and things do not always work out for the best. Sendak the artist drew the complex worlds of children’s imaginations. His artwork, like his characters, could be both playful and a little scary.
Some critics thought his books were too frightening for young readers. But Sendak tried to show that children can be very strong, very creative, and very complicated.
In September, Sendak published the first book in more than 30 years that he had both written and illustrated. The book, Bumble-Ardy, tells the story of a pig who overcomes his fears and throws himself a giant party on his ninth birthday.