With hundreds of thousands of children’s books written and published each year, none come close to creating such a terrible, magical place as Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Sendak’s literary legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of generations following his death earlier this morning, announced today by The New York Times.
Sendak, 83, was reported to have passed away this morning in Danbury, CT, from complications of a stroke.
Sendak began his career in publishing early as an illustrator for a 1947 physics textbook, Atomics for the Millions, which he illustrated at just 19 years old. His first published title was Kenny’s Window, released nine years later in 1957. He worked unnoticed until his famous ‘Wild Things’ was published in 1963, and promptly received the Caldecott Medal—considered the Pulitzer Prize of children’s book illustration—for his imaginary tale a year later.
Sendak’s style of both writing and illustrating was considered by some to be dark and haunting, pushing the boundaries of the normal children’s books featuring well-behaved heroes who save the day. Sendak chose to create books and visuals that captured the attention of young readers, saying, “You cannot write for children. They're much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them.“
Here’s hoping Sendak is sailing back over a year, in and out of weeks, through a day, and into the night of his very own room where he will find his supper waiting for him…still hot.