Wild Things author Maurice Sendak dies at 83

 

The BBC's Jonny Dymond says Sendak was taken aback by the fuss over his book

Maurice Sendak, the US author of the best-selling children's book Where the Wild Things Are, has died aged 83.

His long-time editor, Michael di Capua, told The New York Times the author died in Danbury, Connecticut, after complications from a recent stroke.

He wrote some 17 books and was a prolific illustrator, but was best-known for his 1963 tale of Max, who became the "king of all wild things".

It was made into a Hollywood film in 2009, directed by Spike Jonze.

Maurice Sendak and costume from operatic version of Wid Things Sendak saw Where the Wild Things Are adapted into an opera

There have also been several other adaptations including an animated short in 1973 and an opera in 1980.

The book, which became a children's classic in the US and sold more than 19 million copies worldwide, told the story of a boy who goes on a journey through his own imagination after he is sent to bed without supper.

Considered controversial for its images when it was first published - which some claimed to have scared children - the book went on to earn Sendak a prestigious Caldecott Medal for best children's book in 1964.

Born in 1928 and raised in Brooklyn by Jewish-Polish immigrant parents, Sendak said his own life had been clouded by the Holocaust and that the events of World War II were the root of his raw and honest artistic style.

His childhood dream to be an illustrator was realised in 1951 when he was commissioned to do the art for Wonderful Farm by Marcel Ayme and by 1957 he was writing his own books.

Ballet and opera

Other titles written and illustrated by the author include In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There, Higglety Pigglety Pop! and The Nutshell Library.

His last picture book Bumble-Ardy was published in 2011. It tells the story of an orphaned pig who gives himself a riotous birthday party.

A posthumous picture book, My Brother's Book - a poem written and illustrated by Sendak and inspired by his love for his late brother, Jack - is scheduled to be published next February.

The author won a number of awards for his work, including the Hans Christian Andersen medal for illustration in 1970 and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association in 1983.

Sendak’s most-famous book had many well known fans

As well as writing, Sendak created costumes for ballets and staged operas, including the Czech opera Brundibar. He designed the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker production that went on to become a TV film.

He also acted as producer on various animated TV series based on his illustrations, including Seven Little Monsters, George and Martha and Little Bear.

President Bill Clinton also awarded Sendak a National Medal of the Arts in 1996 for his vast portfolio of work.

Children's Laureate and author of The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson paid tribute to Sendak, saying his death was "a great loss".

"I admired him just as much for his illustration of other author's texts as for his own work," she said.

"Particular favourites being Mr Rabbit and the Lovely Present, written by Charlotte Zolotow, and Else Holmelund Minarik's Little Bear books.

"His own stories tended to deal with quite powerful and scary emotions, but these were often alleviated by humour."

She added: "I feel confident that his work will live on because it had such a timeless quality."

In 2009 and 2012 US President Barack Obama read Where The Wild Things Are at the White House Easter Egg Roll.

When asked whether the president had any comment to make on Sendak's death, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said he had not asked, but was sure Mr Obama's two daughters had read the book.

"I know every parent must be a little bit in mourning today and every child who grew up with that book. It's a sad day," he added.

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 61.

    I'm 22 now and look back on being read, and reading myself, "Where the Wild Things Are" many times as a child. RIP Mr Sendak, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for making such a beautiful book that has touched millions of children.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 60.

    What a truly wonderful author. Where the wild things went to the heart of my imagination as a kid and I can remember borrowing it from the libary for nearly a year and copying all the pictures. I now read this to my son with the same love and each time I open the book I get transported back to where the wild things are! Roar!

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 59.

    //Yeokel
    39 Minutes ago
    39.stevio
    "Never heard of him"

    That's your loss.//

    In your view. But looking how few postings there are here, maybe not in many people's.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 58.

    Great shame, there was a time when I knew the text of Wild Things off by heart as I read it so often to neices and nephews.

    He was once criticised for writing for children when he was not a parent - his respons was that he could because he was a child once!

    (those who comment here not knowing who he is - I suppose you've never read a book - too busy watching Dead Enders!)

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 57.

    Dear Mr Sendak, I grew up with your wonderful books and they followed me from my childhood into adult life. Your wit and wonder are a panacea for the often achingly prosaic world in which we live. Let the wild rumpus continue. I will not forget you.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 56.

    I absolutely loved "Outside Over There" - the sunflowers and the babies faces, superb and unique.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 55.

    Love his books. Was happy to see his "Little Bear" is still listed as a 1st Reader. I knew it as a child and introduced my children to it - they related to it as if it was a book of their own time. Thank you, Maurice Sendak.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 54.

    How sad... Maurice Sendak's books are a very fond memory of my childhood! Your wonderful imagination will be greatly missed, but we will continue to love you through your timeless stories! RIP

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 53.

    Sad news. Only yesterday I chose 'The Art of Maurice Sendak' as my favourite art book in answer to a question for an art exhibition website. I bought many of his books for my children, my nieces and nephews and, yes, for myself! Thank you for your contributions to the imaginations of generations Mr. Sendak!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 52.

    Pierre: A Cutionary Tale. An excellent poem. I shall read it to my daughter tonight.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 51.

    I read these books, Wild Things and Night Kitchen, to my son about 33 years ago, and my grandson about 3 years ago. Same books. Good value. Farewell Maurice, thanks.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 50.

    Perhaps little known Mr. Sendak collaborated with Robert Graves on a children's book titled "The Big Green Book".

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 49.

    39.stevio
    "Never heard of him"

    That's your loss.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 48.

    I missed out on Where the Wild Things are as a child but it was purchased by a friend for my son (now 4) and we both loved it. Even before he could talk I got him making roaring and wailing noises during the "wild rumpus". Fabulous book and great memories. Think we'll be reading it again tonight. RIP Mr Sendak.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 47.

    I read this book as a kid and as soon as my kids were old enough to read I read it to them. Hopefully they will carry on the tradition with their kids.
    R.I.P Maurice Sendak

  • rate this
    -15

    Comment number 46.

    //And another thing
    7 Minutes ago
    If so many of you find this thread pointless or irrelevant to you, why do you still consider it necessary to comment?//

    To make it clear that the thread is pointless and irrelevant, in the no doubt forlorn hope that HYS will stop doing it.

    Next.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 45.

    RIP Maurice Sendak. My 2 daughters love "Where the Wild Things Are" as much as I did at their age. I'm happy to know there are out there some new authors to keep writing to entertain our little ones like Maurice Sendak did before them, such as J.N. Paquet and his "Book of The Animals" series. To me, these authors are just priceless!
    Thanks again Mr Sandak!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 44.

    @39. stevio

    Then this is a great opportunity for introducing you to the author, his books, and then for you to read and enjoy his books.

    With the exception of online trolls, such forums can open up new works for readers.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 43.

    I used to work in the UK for Walker Books and years ago I spent a weekend driving Maurice around London signing copies of I Saw Esau. He was a wonderful man, had a wicked sense of humour and told me some of the filthiest jokes I had ever heard. My treasured memento is a signed copy of the book with a personally drawn child molesting monster.....as I say he did have a very naughty sense of humour!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 42.

    Three generations of 'Where the Wild Things Are' in my family as well. Now, as teacher, I share it with my students. I regularly wear my WtWTA T-shirt to after-school events. Thanks for the Wild Rumpus Mr. Sendak.

 

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