Beloved children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, largely credited with taking children’s books from the light-hearted world of nursery rhymes into darker, scarier places, has died at the age of 83 in Danbury, Conn. Michael di Capua, Sendak’s longtime editor, says the cause of death was complications due to a recent stroke.
Sendak was born in Brooklyn on June 10, 1928, the son of lower class Jewish parents. His big break came in 1948 when he was hired to build window displays for New York toy story F.A.O. Schwarz. The store’s children’s book buyer introduced Sendak to Ursula Nordstrom, the editor of children’s books at Harper & Row publishing and the rest, as they say, was history.
Sendak started his literary career illustrating for other children’s books authors, until he burst onto the scene with his 1963 book “Where the Wild Things Are,” which critics initially panned and which was banned from libraries – until librarians and teachers realized how popular it was amongst children.
Other titles Sendak wrote and illustrated include “In the Night Kitchen” and “Outside Over There,” which form a trilogy with “Where the Wild Things Are,” and a boxed set of four volumes (“Alligators All Around,” “Chicken Soup with Rice,” “One Was Johnny” and “Pierre”).
Sendak was not survived by any immediate family members. His longtime partner, Eugene Glynn, passed away in 2007.
Rest in peace, Maurice Sendak.
And [he] sailed back over a year
and in and out of weeks
and through a day
and into the night of his very own room
where he found his supper waiting for him
and it was still hot