Maurice Sendak, author of 'Where the Wild Things Are,' dead at 83
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.

HarperCollins: Sendak speaks about "Where the Wild Things Are"

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.

2011 Vanity Fair portrait: Maurice Sendak

Watch the videos below for more on the legendary children's author and leave your memories of Sendak and his books in the comments below.

ColbertNation.com video: Sendak on the complexity of children and the simplicity of Newt Gingrich

ColbertNation.com video: Sendak on the state of children's literature

soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. lauriemak1947

    all three of my sons were born in the 70's and Where the Wild Things Are was read very often. I still have most of the Golden Books, and other books I read to them. I'm now reading them to my grandchildren and my granddaughter asked me why Where the Wild Things Are is so tattered and I told her because it was so loved. Thank you, Mr Sendak for your great imagination....it's becoming a lost art.

    May 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. musings

    Don't know WHY you would equate artists with these killers, although some do regard crime as a sort of art. I don't. And I sure don't see Sendak or Van Gogh as belonging in the ranks of these failed men who killed others.

    May 8, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Just Sayin'

    If you grew up in the 70s and read his books, it is like losing a cool uncle.

    May 8, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Richard

    What, no brain-dead liberal educators want to ban his books the way they've done with every non-P.C. or "scary" children's tale extant? Lucky for him the Marxists who run the public schools let him pass.

    May 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. bobby frank- Dallas, Texas

    I loved these books and thank you Mr Sendak for bringing it to the imaginations of all children of the world. You touched alot of souls!

    May 8, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. BOMBO ©

    Little Bear is crying.

    May 8, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Logan

    "Where the Wild Things Are" was the first book I ever owned. My Grandmother gave me a copy of it when I was 4 years old, teaching me not just to read, but to love reading. I can still remember my Gram reading the book to me and acting out the voices of the monsters while they "Roar their terrible roars and Gnash their terrible teeth!" My son was born a little over 2 years ago. His copy of the book was waiting in his room the day we brought him home. His laughter when I act out those same parts of the book is the greatest sound in the world. Thank You, Mr. Sendak, not only for inspiring in me a love of reading, but for a lifetime of beautiful memories.

    May 8, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. BOMBO ©

    I don't care.

    (Pierre was my favorite)

    May 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Paul

      Awesome comment.

      May 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • raven

      Me too, BOMBO.Perfect post.

      May 8, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. James

    My favorite childrens book of all time, also the Little Bear series too were also very cool.

    My son (when he was younger), loved to read both Mr. Sendak's books & Dr. Seuss' books. Thanks for helping kids learn to read!

    May 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Bill

    Maurice: God Bless. Let the wild rumpus begin!!!

    May 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Kevin

    Very sad. I'll never forget 'Where the Wild Things Are,' or that interview with Stephen Colbert.

    May 8, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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    May 17, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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