, creator of the classic children's story "Where the Wild Things Are," has died at age 83 of complications from a recent stroke, the New York Times reported.
"Sendak was born in Brooklyn, New York to Polish Jewish immigrant parents Sarah (née Schindler) and Philip Sendak, a dressmaker. Sendak described his childhood as a "terrible situation" because of his extended family dying in The Holocaust, which exposed him at an early age to death and the concept of mortality. His love of books began at an early age when he developed health problems and was confined to his bed. He decided to become an illustrator after viewing Walt Disney's film Fantasia at the age of twelve. One of his first professional commissions was to create window displays for the toy store F.A.O. Schwarz. His illustrations were first published in 1947 in a textbook titled Atomics for the Millions by Dr. Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff. He spent much of the 1950s illustrating children's books written by others before beginning to write his own stories."
Sendak's classic story, 'Where the Wild Things Are' captured the hearts of millions of children worldwide. The language is beautifully lyrical, and the story one that every child could relate to, of being naughty and being sent to bed...'without his supper...where a boat sailed by and took him off through night and day and almost over a week...to where the wild things are!' After a grand adventure Max finally return to the safe warmth of his room, "...where he found his supper waiting for him....and it was still hot!"
In an interview last fall, Sendak spoke on many things, with the same passionate honestly that was his trademark:
At 83, Sendak is still enraged by almost everything that crosses his landscape. In the first 10 minutes of our meeting, he gets through:
Ebooks: "I hate them. It's like making believe there's another kind of sex. There isn't another kind of sex. There isn't another kind of book! A book is a book is a book."
New York: "You get pushed and harassed and people grope you. It's too tumultuous, it's too crazy!"
The American right: "These Republican schnooks would be comical if they weren't not funny."
On a personal note, I loved this book passionately, and know it by heart. For years I taught drama to children, and this story was one that we re-enacted many many times. Ihe children would make masks for the role of the Wild Things, and I even had a little wooden boat with the name 'Max' on it, for the part where he sails away. There was always a cathartic effect upon us all when we all shouted together:
"..The wild things roared their terrible roars,
And gnashed their terrible teeth,
And rolled their terrible eyes,
And showed their terrible claws...."
....and as we acted out the roaring and gnashing and rolling of eyes and slashing of claws we all became the wild things for that special moment, were given permission to celebrate the wildness within, knowing that we would soon be safely returned to the safety of Max's room and his still hot supper.
Thank you for the joy of these stories, Maurice Sendak. I dream that Max's little boat will carry you to the island where the Wild Things are, to dance and howl at the moon with all your dear old friends.