‘Where the Wild Things Are’ Author Maurice Sendak Dies at 83
One of the most acclaimed and beloved children’s authors of the 20th century has passed away.
The New York Times broke the news that author Maurice Sendak, creator of such classic books as ‘In the Night Kitchen’ and ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ died early Tuesday morning from complications from a recent stroke. He was 83.
Sendak is best known for writing and illustrating the characters and stories for his book ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ a tale of a mischievous boy who travels to a magical kingdom inhabited by monsters and becomes their king. However, his lifetime of work has been studied and read for years since his groundbreaking book first hit the shelves in 1963. Some other notable titles from Sendak’s library include ‘In the Night Kitchen,’ ‘Higglety Pigglety Pop!’ and a boxset of books called ‘The Nutshell Library.’
Last year, he published his first book in 30 years, ‘Bumble-Ardy,’ which spent five weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list for children’s books. His next book, ‘My Brother’s Book,’ inspired by his relationship with his late brother Jack, will be released posthumously in February of 2013.
Sendak was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and taught himself to draw from an early age. As a teenager, he got a job with All-American Comics as a background illustrator for comic strips such as ‘Mutt and Jeff.’ Later in his 20s, he worked for the toy retailer F.A.O. Schwartz where he met the editor of Harper & Row’s children’s books. This meeting eventually led to the publication of ‘Where the Wild Things Are.’
With themes of loneliness, isolation and even death, Sendak’s books didn’t meld with traditional trends for children’s fiction. Some of these themes earned him some negative reviews early in his career and even controversy, most notably for ‘In the Night Kitchen’s’ illustration of a nude boy.
Most, however, praised Sendak’s work as revolutionary, deep and thought-provoking in the world of children’s literature. In the long run, his fans outnumbered his critics. Several of his works were turned into stage plays and musicals both on and off-Broadway. Recently, his most famous book was adapted into the 2009 feature film ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ written by fellow author Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze who also served as its director.
Sendak’s books, art and even the man himself have also become an area of study among literary academics and childhood development. More importantly, they are still a beloved addition to children’s bookshelves. Watch a hilarious interview (one of the author’s last) Sendak did with Stephen Colbert below.
In the part 2 of the hilarious interview, Sendak and Colbert enjoy the sweet, sweet smell of markers.