Tue
May 8 2012 10:45am

Maurice Sendak, 1928-2012

Maurice Sendak, beloved author and illustrator, has passed away at the age of 83. Sendak’s career began at twelve, when he was inspired to become an artist after seeing Disney’s Fantasia. A successful illustrator of other authors’ work throughout the 1950s, Sendak rose to fame with the now-classic Where the Wild Things Are in 1963, a book which brought his distinctive voice to generations of children and adult readers.

Since then, Sendak has always been a unique presence in children’s literature—never afraid to delve into the darker side of life, he caused a fair amount of controversy in his career, while at the same time garnering awards ranging from the Caldecott to a National Book Award to the National Medal of the Arts. He refused to sentimentalize childhood in his work, or to “lie to children,” as he put it in a recent interview, but the harsher realities and dangers in his work were always balanced by the unconquerable vitality and resilience of his protagonists…

Brave, headstrong, sometimes downright bratty, Sendak’s characters evince his faith in the ability of children, and maybe even humanity as a whole, to deal with the looming perils and lurking absurdities of life. What his art lacked in sentimentality, it more than made up for in humor, intelligence and inspiration. He was a brilliant, complicated, hardheaded and sometimes curmudgeonly genius, and he was wonderful. Today the world is a little poorer, and a little grimmer, for his absence, but his faith in us remains—all we can do is try our best to live up to it.

4 comments
Nick Rogers
2. BookGoblin
May he find wild things at the eternal Rumpus beyond the sea.
James Whitehead
3. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
Good-bye Mr. Sendak, I loved your books as did my children.

You will be missed but, to echo a smart guy, you won't be forgotten.

Kato

PS - Funny story regarding his Wild Things. I was playing a Wild Thing for my mum's bookstore & was in the main monster's costume waiving to all the kids outside to get them to come into the store - I got a $25 store certificate for 4 hours effort.

At the same time, the Hallmark store had Santa. So I'd hear parents asking their kids who that was, pointing at me. The kids' eyes would get big & they'd saw in awe "That's a Wild Thing." Lots of kids came into the store & left. Got lots of hugs from the brave ones. ;-)

No child left the bookstore in tears; other than for the usual reason of not getting everything they wanted. Santa? Lots of kids came out of the Hallmark crying after having met him. Definitely shows that Maurice Sendak was on to something...
Irene Gallo
4. Irene
Put on the jean jacket I painted in high school.

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