Sendak’s Early Life
• Maurice Bernard Sendak born
June 10, 1928 in New York
• Parents were Polish Jewish immigrants
• Much of extended family killed in
• Childhood illness confined him to bed;
he drew to pass the time
• Influenced by Disney, especially Mickey & Fantasia
• Started drawing for All-American Comics in High School
• Designed window displays & studied with the Art Students
League of New York
• In early 1950’s, began illustrating other authors’ books,
including two by his older brother, Jack
• First written & illustrated work: Kenny’s Window (1956)
• Where the Wild Things Are (1963) immediate success with
kids but often challenged by parents & teachers
• Wrote over 20 books, illustrated more than 75 books & worked
on several films and theatre productions
Sendak’s Later Life
Caldecott Medal (1964 for WtWtA)
Hans Christian Andersen Award (1970)
National Book Award (1982 for Outside Over There)
Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal (1983)
National Medal of Arts (1996)
• Last book, My Brother's Book, was published posthumously
• Partner of Eugene Glynn for 50 years but never told parents
he was gay
• d. Danbury, Connecticut; May 8, 2012
Where The Wild Things Are
• Story and pictures by Maurice Sendak
• Published: by Harper & Row in 1963
• First edition: 40 pages, cloth back binding 25x26 cm
• Short story with vivid illustrations about Max, an angry
little boy who after being sent to bed without supper,
sails to the land of the wild things, where he becomes
their king, only to later return to a loving supper
prepared by his mother.
• New York Times’ Best Illustrated Children's Book
• Winner of the 1964 Caldecott Award
• Has sold more than 19 million copies
• Often challenged and sometimes removed from
libraries for various reasons, including glorification
of Max’s anger, scary drawings, potential
psychological trauma and supernatural elements
Inspiration of Story
• Wild Things originally were conceived as horses,
but Sendak couldn’t draw them
• The characters as drawn were based on Sendak’s
• Sendak claimed to have written from a place of
honesty, dealing with the realities of childhood,
including anger, troubles with parents, and fear,
but without an agenda
• Regularly named to top children’s and picture
book best lists, including School Library Journal’s
#1 Picture Book (2012) and the National
Education Association’s #2 Teacher’s Top Book for
• Animated short film (1974)
• Opera [for which Sendak wrote the libretto] (1980)
• Live-action feature film [made with input from
Janice Del Negro, associate professor in the GSLIS, discussed
Where the Wild Things Are for the Chicago Tribune after
Sendak’s death in 2012:
• "It changed books for children forever…He wrote for the child — not
for the adult who was buying the book or reading to the child."
• The book was controversial when first published because "people
thought it was too scary... They said, 'The monsters are too scary.
They will give children nightmares.’”
• "But Max is the hero of the story and he wins. He wins everything.
He is the conqueror in the tale. The idea of the child being able to
conquer the fear was something that little children really got.
Children love it. They identify both with Max and the wild things.”
• "The design of the book, the vibrance of the art, changed the energy
in picture books. The book is as fresh today as when it first came
out. And it will last forever."
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Moyers, Bill. "Maurice Sendak: ‘Where the Wild Things Are’" Bill Moyers Journal. PBS, 2004.
Web. 12 Apr. 2013.
"Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children." Nea.org. National Education Association, 2007.
Web. 12 Apr. 2013.
"Top 100 Picture Books Poll Results." School Library Journal. 6 July 2012. Web. 12 Apr.
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