Home / Section: Illustration
Maurice Sendak passes at age 83
Sad, sad day. Maurice Sendak, children’s author and illustrator best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are, has passed away at the age of 83.
In book after book, Mr. Sendak upended the staid, centuries-old tradition of American children’s literature, in which young heroes and heroines were typically well scrubbed and even better behaved; nothing really bad ever happened for very long; and everything was tied up at the end in a neat, moralistic bow.
Mr. Sendak’s characters, by contrast, are headstrong, bossy, even obnoxious. (In “Pierre,” “I don’t care!” is the response of the small eponymous hero to absolutely everything.) His pictures are often unsettling. His plots are fraught with rupture: children are kidnapped, parents disappear, a dog lights out from her comfortable home.
A curmudgeon and character of the first order, Maurice Sendak made several good books and one titanic one. I don’t know anyone else whose reputation is so closely aligned to a single work that has never been diminished or re-appraised for that fact, but you don’t step to “Where The Wild Things Are.” You just don’t.