Illustrator and writer Maurice Sendak was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 10, 1928. As a boy, Sendak and his older brother used to write stories. They then illustrated them and bound them into little books.
Sendak went to art school for a short time. But he mainly learned about his profession on his own. As a teen he spent many hours sketching neighborhood children as they played. These children were represented in A Hole Is to Dig (1952), a book by Ruth Kraus that brought Sendak his first fame.
Sendak's ability to remember the sounds and feelings of particular childhood moments were demonstrated in his best-known work, Where the Wild Things Are (1963). He won the 1964 Caldecott Medal for this book. He later wrote and illustrated two companion books: In the Night Kitchen (1970) and Outside Over There (1981). The latter received a 1982 American Book Award. Sendak has said the three works are about "how children manage to get through childhood...how they defeat boredom, worries and fear, and find joy."
Sendak has illustrated some ninety children's books. In 1970, he won the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal for the body of his illustrated work. He was the first American to receive this highest honor in children's book publishing. In 1996, U.S. president Bill Clinton presented Sendak with the National Medal of Arts. In recent years, the artist has designed sets and costumes for the ballet and for a number of grand operas in the United States and England.