Maurice Sendak in 2011"Kids books…Grown up books…That's just marketing," illustrator and author Maurice Sendak told colleague Art Spiegelman in an interview for The New Yorker in 1993. Sendak, who died this morning at age 83 from complications from a stroke, was famous for spelunking in the murkier recesses of children's psyches in books like "Where the Wild Things Are," "In the Night Kitchen," and "Outside Over There."
"Where the Wild Thing Are," the story of Max, a naughty boy in a wolf suit who is sent to bed with no supper and instead finds himself dancing with monsters was "simultaneously genre-breaking and career-making" when it was published in 1963 reports the New York Times.
Some librarians found the book too disturbing and banned it from shelves. The Los Angeles Times reports that psychologists "condemned" the book for being "too dark." Nevertheless, "Where the Wild Things Are" was awarded the Caldecott Medal by the American Library Association in 1964, and is one of the 10 best selling children's books of all time.
Where the Wild Things AreSpeaking with WNYC radio's The Takeaway this morning, Spiegelman noted how Sendak upended the "twee nursery tradition" that was bestowed on children during the Victorian Era. His children weren't freshly scrubbed do-gooders but bristling, cranky and complicated characters who fought, lied, ran away and then came back to the fold-just like real children.
Sendak illustrated over a 100 books and wrote and illustrated more than a dozen. His drawings have been exhibited around the world and he also designed sets for film, opera and television. In 2006 he and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tony Kushner staged and adaption of the children's opera "Brundibar" which was originally performed by children in Nazi concentration camps. The son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, Sendak once said, "The Holocaust has run like a river of blood through all my books," reports the Washington Post.
Sendak's final work, "My Brother's Book," which was inspired by his close relationship with his late brother, Jack, is slated to be published posthumously in February, 2013.
What is your favorite work by Maurice Sendak? Please let us know in the comments.