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. John

    Wonderful author. You will be missed by millions. RIP.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. DP

    I recently reconnected with Maurice Sendak when I took a childrens literature class last summer. I brought back memories of my mom reading Wild Things to me back in the 70's. Maurice was an inspiration to me when I was finding my style of drawing. He was one of the greats.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  3. AM

    gosh cnn, sure took you long enough to post this. lazy bums. rest in peace mr. sendak, your stories will never be forgotten!

    May 8, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. t3chsupport

    And here we see that not all freaks are intelligent.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. jeffrey veregge

    RIP Mr. Sendak. Thank you for being an important part in not only my childhood, but allowing me to share your wonderful tales & art with my own children. May your stories live on for many generations to come. I will be praying for your friends & loved ones.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. JM

    Awww. Loved that book.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. j

    Sad to see him go. I have fond memories of my daughter watching Little Bear on Noggin. It has such a gentle sweet nature to it.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  8. sami

    And some are blinded by anger, close mindedness and fear of imagination.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  9. kl

    My 5-year-old son and I just watched Where the Wild Things Are on Sunday. The book is a classic, as are his others. RIP.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. kaneda

    Just saw the movie last weekend..

    May 8, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  11. Trevor

    Wow – have you ever read any of his works? Do you actually know any kids? You are an idiot.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. lizphantom

    why was he such a creep/weird/freak? Please enlighten those of us who are not so in tuned.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mongo

    Don't know about the books, but the movie was bizarre. All the characters acted like they were on heavy doses of opiates.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  14. hilary

    Rest in Peace Mr Sendak – my world was a better place because of the worlds you introduced me to, and your books taught me to read. Thank you so very much.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. Kate

    I loved "Where the Wild Things Are" as a child – but especially now, as the mommy to a little boy, this book is more precious to me than ever. I'm quite positive every little boy, at one time or another, embodies the spirit of Max. I'm fairly certain mine is the "king of all wild things" – but my sisters could say the same of their sons, too. RIP, Mr. Sendak, and thank you for the gift of Max and the Wild Things. Your legacy will live forever through your beautiful books.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
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