SILVER SPRING, MD, May 8, 2012 – On May 8, 2012, at the age of 83, Maurice Sendak took his boat ride across the water to the land of the wild things, never to return. It was in 1963 when Sendak first took children on this ride with Max, and the wild rumpus began. In the almost five decades since its first publication, several generations of children have had their imaginations captivated by the art and stories of his most well known, and well loved creation, Where the Wild Things Are.
The classic children’s book has had several incarnations. Max explored his wild side not just between the pages of the children’s book, but as a plush doll in his wolf suit, in the pages of a novel by David Eggers and on film in movie adaptations in 1973 and again in 2009.
But Maurice Sendak was more than just one book. He wrote 19 books and illustrated 77 across his career, which started in 1947 illustrating Atomics for the Millions by Dr. Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff and ended with Bumble-Ardy in 2011. His worked received acclaim, not only from his readers who passed them from generation to generation, but also from the literary community. Among his honors are the highest for his art, The Caldicott Medal (1963 for Where the Wild Things Are), The Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1970, The National Book Award in 1982 (for Outside Over There), the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award in 1983, The National Medal of Arts in 1996, and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2003.
While he received accolades, he also received criticism. When Where the Wild Things Are was first published it was met with skepticism and criticism by parents concerned with the fanged monsters that star so heavily in the book. His 1970 book, In the Night Kitchen, has been subject to censorship. The American Library Association frequently lists it on their list of “frequently challenged and banned books.”
Ultimately, Sendak will be remembered for Max and the Wild Things. Max taught us that the things under the bed and went bump in the night were not to be afraid of. He taught us sometimes we have to be fierce to be heard, and just like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Max also showed us there’s no place like home.
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