May 8th, 2012
09:40 AM ET
Maurice Sendak, author of 'Where the Wild Things Are,' dead at 83
[Updated at 10:34 a.m. ET]
Maurice Sendak, author of the classic children's book "Where the Wild Things Are," died from complications after a stroke on Tuesday, said Erin Crum, a spokeswoman for HarperCollins Publishers.
Sendak illustrated nearly 100 books during a 60-year career, winning dozens of accolades as he endeared himself to generations of children reared on his fanciful stories. One critic called him "the Picasso of children's literature."
Former President Bill Clinton called him the "king of dreams."
Born in Brooklyn the son of Polish immigrants, Sendak grew up to take a few
night classes but largely taught himself as an artist.
He is best known for his book, "Where the Wild Things Are." It tells the story of a boy named Max, who dresses in a white wolf costume and escapes his life at home by sailing to a remote land, where he discovers wild things who roar their terrible roars and gnash their terrible teeth.
The book stirred controversy when it was first published in 1963. Many librarians initially feared it would disturb children, although it has become a timeless classic well-stocked in bookstores and libraries around the world.
"Maurice Sendak captured childhood in brilliant stories and drawings which will live forever,” Richard Robinson, chairman, president and CEO of Scholastic Inc. said after Sendak's death.
Sendak received the Caldecott Medal for "Where the Wild Things Are" and was known for other favorite children's classics, such as "In the Night Kitchen," "Chicken Soup with Rice," "Alligators All Around," and the "Little Bear" books. He won the National Medal of Arts, the National Book Award, the Hans Christian Andersen Medal and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, according to Harper Collins Publishers.
We can think of no better way to pay tribute to Sendak than through his own memorable words.
“But the wild things cried,
'Oh please don’t go – we’ll eat you up – we love you so!'
And Max said, 'No!'
The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth
and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws,
but Max stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye.”
– Maurice Sendak
Sendak recently did an interview with Stephen Colbert and was also the subject of an HBO documentary as well as a DVD by the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia.