Maurice Sendak was popularly known for his work with children’s books. He was a world-renowned writer and illustrator. He became widely popular because of the book Where the Wild Things Are. But did you know what the best compliment Sendak has ever received was?
Maurice Sendak made sure he responded to letters sent by children. He once replied with him drawing a Wild Thing character to a boy. The boy loved it so much he ate the drawing. This was considered the best compliment he had ever gotten.
Who Was Maurice Sendak?
Maurice Bernard Sendak was born on June 10, 1928, in Brooklyn, New York, to Polish immigrants who were dressmakers. Sendak was a sickly child who turned to drawing to pass the time. Sendak pursued his passion for art when he received his formal training at the Art Students League of New York. (Source: Britannica)
In the 1940s, Sendak worked on window displays of the famous F.A.O. Schwarz toy store in New York while also drawing backgrounds for All-American Comics. He met the legendary children’s book editor Ursula Nordstrom, who helped him land his first job illustrating authors’ books, including Marcel Aymé, Ruth Krauss, and Else Holmelund Minarik. (Source: Biography)
Sendak illustrated the first books were Aymé’s The Wonderful Farm and Krauss’ A Hole is to Dig. Sendak illustrated more than 80 children’s books for several other writers. He then published Kenny’s Window in 1956. This was the first book Sendak published to which he wrote and illustrated on his own.
In 1963, Sendak produced the masterpiece, Where the Wild Things Are. This innovative trilogy won him the 1964 Caldecott Medal for capturing the public’s imagination with this tale of a boy’s journey into a strange land inhabited by grotesque yet appealing monsters.
Sendak produced more than fifty books, including In the Night Kitchen and Outside Over There. Besides being an author of children’s books, he was also the writer and director of the animated television special Really Rosie. He also created opera versions of some of his books and designed several works for the stage, notably the city of Houston’s The Magic Flute in 1980. (Source: Britannica)
Sendak continued his career until May 8, 2012, when he passed away after succumbing to a stroke he suffered a few days back. (Source: Biography)
Where the Wild Things Are
Sendak’s book is considered one of the classics. But when it was initially published in 1963, it met mixed reviews, with critics saying it may traumatize children because of the monsters drawn compared to the usual joyous illustrations they were used to.
The book was inspired by Sendak’s immigrant relatives and how he viewed them as a child. It was praised because it helped children deal with anger and assisted them in anger management, teaching them to channel their anger creatively.
Where the Wild Things Are centers around the story of a boy named Max, he is a naughty boy who often gets into a fit of rage when his mother sends him to bed without dinner. Max’s room transforms into a jungle with monsters. Max gets to tame the monsters and becomes their king, but Max decides to come back to his room upon realizing he misses his mother’s love. (Source: Britannica)
The Greatest Compliment of Sendak’s Work
Sendak reveals the greatest compliment he has ever received in one of his interviews. The author recalls receiving a card with a cute little drawing from one of his fans. It was from a boy named Jim. Sendak, who answered all of the childrens’ letters personally, sent Jim a card.
He drew one of the Wild Things characters on it and a note saying he loved Jim’s card. Sendak soon received a card from Jim’s mother, saying that Jim loved Sendak’s card so much he ate it. Sendak claims that was one of the greatest compliments he has ever received. Jim didn’t care that it was an original Sendak illustration. He saw it. He loved it, and he ate it. (Source: Mental Floss)