Maurice Sendak Has Died

By Cathleen Falsani 05-08-2012
Sendak/Wild Things image via By .Va i ♥ ven. Arp/Wylio.

Sendak/Wild Things image via By .Va i ♥ ven. Arp/Wylio.

“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

Maurice Sendak, the author and illustrator of unmatched and unfettered whimsy, whose fertile imagination gave children (of all ages) Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, Pierre and most recently Bumble-Ardy, died today in Connecticut. He was 83.

The New York Times reports:

Maurice Sendak, widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche, died on Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. He was 83 and lived in Ridgefield, Conn.

The cause was complications from a recent stroke, said Michael di Capua, his longtime editor.

Roundly praised, intermittently censored and occasionally eaten, Mr. Sendak’s books were essential ingredients of childhood for the generation born after 1960 or thereabouts, and in turn for their children. He was known in particular for more than a dozen picture books he wrote and illustrated himself, most famously “Where the Wild Things Are,” which was simultaneously genre-breaking and career-making when it was published by Harper & Row in 1963.

Among the other titles he wrote and illustrated, all from Harper & Row, are “In the Night Kitchen” (1970) and “Outside Over There” (1981), which together with “Where the Wild Things Are” form a trilogy; “The Sign on Rosie’s Door” (1960); “Higglety Pigglety Pop!” (1967); and “The Nutshell Library” (1962), a boxed set of four tiny volumes comprising “Alligators All Around,” “Chicken Soup With Rice,” “One Was Johnny” and “Pierre.”

In September, a new picture book by Mr. Sendak, “Bumble-Ardy” — the first in 30 years for which he produced both text and illustrations — was issued by HarperCollins Publishers…. A posthumous picture book, “My Brother’s Book” — a poem written and illustrated by Mr. Sendak and inspired by his love for his late brother, Jack — is scheduled to be published next February.

CLICK HERE to read an earlier post about Mr. Sendak and his Bumble-Ardy and to the author's recent interview witih NPR about life, death and love.

At the end of an extraordinary interview with NPR's Terry Gross last year, the host asked Mr. Sendak whether he had any advice for his fans and readers.

His answer?

Sendak bid adieu to Gross at the end of their interview with these words -- words to live by:

"Live your life, live your life, live your life."


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