In Memory of Maurice Sendak

Last week, the world lost a legend in children’s literature: Maurice Sendak. Many people probably know him best as the author and illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are. How many times did you hop into that boat with Max and sail to that special place? I did more than I can count.

I also had a boxed set of four more Sendak books, called the Nutshell Library: Pierre, Chicken Soup with Rice, Alligators All Around, and One Was Johnny. They were tiny books that I loved to carry around (and my kids did, too). To be honest, I don’t remember reading One Was Johnny. I loved the story of Pierre (the boy who answered, “I don’t care!” to anything someone said) and the rhymes in Chicken Soup with Rice were fun (sipping once, sipping twice, sipping chicken soup with rice).

In honor of all that Maurice Sendak did, here are 10 facts you might not have known.

  • He said he set a goal of becoming a writer and illustrator when he was only 4 or 5 years old.
  • Sendak never thought of himself as a children’s author. He said he was an author who told the truth about childhood.
  • He wrote and illustrated more than books, either of his own or with other authors.
  • He also worked as a designer for plays and ballet and opera productions, including renditions of The Nutcracker, The Magic Flute, and Hansel and Gretel.
  • He won the Caldecott Medal in 1964 for the book Where the Wild Things Are. He received the American National Medal of the Arts in 1996 by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington, D.C.
  • The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia awarded Sendak an honorary doctorate degree in 1998 for his services to children’s literature.
  • He was an early member of the group that eventually produced Sesame Street.
  • Where the Wild Things Are was originally titled Where the Wild Horses Are. Sendak gave that up when he discovered that he couldn’t draw horses.
  • Where the Wild Things Are is only 10 sentences long.
  • Several of the Wild Things were caricatures of relatives who used to visit his family when he was a child.


So … did you (or your children) love Where the Wild Things Are, or did those bizarre-looking creatures give you the willies? What was your favorite part in Wild Things, or any of Sendak’s other stories?


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