Famed children’s author Maurice Sendak dies

Maurice Sendak, the author and illustrator of children’s books including the 1963 classic “Where the Wild Things Are,” died of complications from a stroke in Danbury, Connecticut on May 7. He was 83. Born in Brooklyn, Sendak’s parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland, who lost many members of their family during the Holocaust. Sendak began work as an illustrator as a young man for other authors before writing and illustrating his own work. He received the coveted Caldecott Medal for “Where the Wild Things Are,” despite its many dark, disturbing images of monsters that concerned some parents. Sendak won several awards for his work including a 1970 Hans Christian Andersen Award for children’s illustration, a 1982 National Book Award and a Laura Ingalls Wilder medal. “Where the Wild Things” was transformed into a one-act opera by Oliver Knussen with a libretto by Sendak in the 1980s with several different versions. After a long history of rejection by several major Hollywood studios, “Where the Wild Things” was eventually produced by Sendak, Tom Hanks and others  as a feature film. Shot in 2006 in Australia and directed by Spike Jonze, who co-wrote the screenplay, the film required a great deal of post editing. Starring Max Records as Max, it was released by Warner Brothers to critical acclaim in 2009 with both live action actors in animatronics costumes as well as computer generated images. Some of the voice work was supplied by well-known actors James Gandolfini, Forrest Whitaker and Catherine O’Hara. The film grossed over $100 million in the U.S. and Canada before it was released as a DVD in 2010 featuring an animated version of “Higglety Pigglety Pop!” another of Sendak’s best known works for children. Sendak died one week short of the fifth year anniversary of the death of his longtime partner Eugene Glynn, a psychiatrist and critic of the arts.

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