Yesterday’s Google Doodle has left people of all ages buzzing with memories of Maurice Sendak’s stories. The children’s author passed away last year, and would have just turned 85. His most famous and beloved work is Where the Wild Things Are, though he wrote over 50 books, including In the Night Kitchen and Outside Over There. Later in his career he worked on the musical Really Rosie with Carole King as well.
Born in New York City, Sendak was a sickly child. He turned to drawing to pass the time, and, once he got to high school, began working at All-American Comics. He went on to work on window displays for F.A.O. Schwartz, one of the most famous toy stores in Brooklyn. In the late 1940s, Sendak met Ursula Nordstrom, the legendary children’s book editor, who helped him get his first position as a children’s books illustrator. His works include books by Ruth Krauss and Else Holmelund Minarik.
Sendak wrote and illustrated his first book in 1956, titled Kenny’s Window. His 1963 Where the Wild Things Are won a Caldecott Medal and changed the world of children’s books, captivating the public with its imaginative journey of a boy in a dark, moody world of monsters. Sendak explained that the protagonist, a child named Max, acted like a real child as opposed to a light, happy, idealized version of youth.
“In plain terms, a child is a complicated creature who can drive you crazy,” Sendak said. “There’s a cruelty to childhood, there’s an anger. And I did not want to reduce Mac to the trite image of the good little boy that you find in too many books.”
Maurice Sendak passed away in a Danbury, Connecticut hospital in 2012 after suffering a stroke. His incredible contributions to children’s literature and unparalleled illustrations have left lasting impressions throughout numerous generations.