Maurice Sendak dies at 83

Where the Wild Things Are author will be remembered for his writing and illustrations

WRITTEN BY: Brittney Elkins
Maurice Sendak touched millions of imaginations with his writing and illustrations. Above is a photo of graffiti depicting a scene from Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are.
Image Source: Scott Woods-Fehr via Wikimedia Commons
Maurice Sendak touched millions of imaginations with his writing and illustrations. Above is a photo of graffiti depicting a scene from Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are.

Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of one of the best known children’s classics Where the Wild Things Are, has died at age 83.

Maurice Sendak passed away due to complications from a stroke he suffered Friday. According to his friend and caretaker Lynn Caponera, Maurice Sendak never regained consciousness after the stroke and died in Danbury Hospital early Tuesday.

Maurice Sendak was the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, but he was born and raised in Brooklyn. He was introduced to the concept of mortality at a young age, losing many members of his extended family during the Holocaust.

As a child, Maurice Sendak was bedridden for prolonged periods due to health problems and developed a love for reading. It was Disney’s Fantasia that made him decide, at age 12, to become an illustrator.

Where the Wild Things Are became one of his best known books, essentially making his career as it broke genre norms and made the children’s book something to be enjoyed by people of all ages.

While Wild Things’ was shocking to librarians and adults thought it may frighten their children, it was just the beginning to the trilogy of “shocking” and “frightening” books by Maurice Sendak.

In the Night Kitchen has been widely censored due to the protagonist, Mickey, running around the kitchen naked throughout the book as he helps some bakers bake a cake.

Outside, Over There takes readers on a journey on a goblin hunt as a young girl, Ida, reluctantly trails after her baby sister, whom was kidnapped by the goblins. Ida takes off on a magical, and dark, journey almost losing sight of her mission but eventually devoting herself to the care of her sister.

Maurice Sendak won several awards for his writing, but his illustrations became iconic of many children’s favorites and helped further immortalize the works of authors like Hans Christian Andersen, and E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Nutcracker.

Maurice Sendak once said, “So I write books that seem more suitable for children, and that’s OK with me. They are a better audience and tougher critics. Kids tell you what they think, not what they think they should think.”

Maurice Sendak will be remembered for generations to come for his literary works, which have been classified as children’s literature. But he will be remembered outside the halls of primary schools by those whose imaginations have been brought to life by his stories and illustrations, and by those whose wild rumpuses have not yet begun.

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