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. banasy©

    Very sad.
    My childre grew up with his books, and later, my youngest watched the "Little Bear" show on the telly.
    RIP, Mr. Sendak.
    You brought joy to children everywhere, and your books will live on.

    May 8, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sarah

    RIP sir, your interview with Colbert was hilarious.

    May 8, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  3. dawn masterson

    my children loved his artwork and still watch little bear on tv. he will be sorely missed, and we send our love and sympathy to his loved ones.

    May 8, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    Once in a generation someone comes along who catches everyone's imagination, "please don't go we'll eat you up!" Rest in Peace Maurice

    May 8, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. DIANA

    RIP. Your book inspired my daughter to want to read. God is saying "Let the Wild Rumpus start!". You brought imagination and creativity to the world. You will be missed.
    I've loved your work but fell in love all over with you in your Stephen Colbert interview.

    May 8, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. Steve

    Maurice Sendak, I hope you are where someone loves you best of all.

    May 8, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. warren

    By there was great movie adapted from the books!

    May 8, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  8. Kimberly

    I read your book to my daughter a thousand times. ....and then she read it to me a thousand times!
    As a fan of Stephen Colbert I was once again reminded of the genuis you always were!

    May 8, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  9. justthesame

    What a shame. I just read this to my 20 month old for the first time 2 nights ago. We had a great time. "let the wild rumpus start" opens his young imagination to howling, jumping, laughing and dancing. So much fun, great memories for life. Thank you Maurice Sendak. A simple gift for the world to enjoy!

    May 8, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  10. El Jefe

    And what did he do to earn your scorn? Why was he a total freak in your eyes? Please elaborate beyond baseless acccusations after his death. or are you just sore about something else?

    May 8, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. Leigh2

    So sad to learn of his passing. One of my favorite childhood stories was 'Where the Wild Things Are'. Also read it to other children over the years, including my own. Condolences to his family. May Mr. Sendak be at peace.

    May 8, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. fcnd05

    @mytake, how the hell do you know what kind of person he was? Did you spend time with him to get to know him? Or did you just read some off handed article on the web and that is your bases for your opinion? Provide facts before posting your ridiculous dribble. What a troll....

    May 8, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ari

    I have three children and repeatedly ask me to read this book to them. It opens their minds to a ltttle world all their own. A world that adults forget. Thank you Maurice, for reminding us Where the Wild Things Are.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  14. Leigh Ann

    You have no idea what you are talking about. I knew Maurice personally, and he is the most imaginative, creative, 'child' himself. He was wonderful to children because he didn't treat them like children. He treated them like the crazy, imaginative, honest humans they are.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  15. Batgirl

    Maurice didn't write FOR children therefore they love his books. He didn't write down to them. Some of his books are a little "out there" but it is up to parents to decide what to read to their children. If you think he was a total freak, then don't read his books to your children. They will discover them in the school library soon enough! RIP Maurice!

    May 8, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
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