Celebration of Maurice Sendak
An Exhibit of Award-winning Children's Books
The Celebration of Maurice Sendak Exhibit, is on display in the Reading Room of the Education Psychology Library in Tolman Hall. This Exhibit, by displaying several of his best award-winning books and illustrations, pays tribute to this major contributor to Children's Literature.
View the more of the online exhbit that was created to accompany the Celebration of Maurice Sendak Exhibit by clicking on the Sendak Gallery of images, the Bibliography of Sendak's work, the Webliography of links to live interviews with Sendak. More information on children's book awards can be found on the Awards webpage.
Maurice Sendak (1928-2012) was the author and illustrator of numerous children's books, many of which won major awards for their excellence in art and creativity. Sadly, 2012 was the year of the passing of this beloved, award-winning artist. Maurice Sendak was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, to Polish-Jewish immigrant parents. His family fled Nazi Germany where some of his family perished. As a child, he suffered frequent illness, including measles, pneumonia and scarlet fever - all by age four. As a result, he spent long hours in bed reading, dreaming and drawing. Seeing the Disney film Fantasia at the age of twelve, Sendak decided to become a cartoonist. He began working as an illustrator by the time he was in high school. In 1963, he published Where the Wild Things Are. The next year he rose to a pinnacle of fame when Where the Wild Things Are, won the coveted ALA Caldecott Medal for its excellence as an illustrated children's book.
In addition to publishing books that he both authored and illustrated, Sendak illustrated the books of many children's authors of his era. These included Ruth Krauss, Meindert DeJong, Marcel Ayme, Robert Garvey, Dr. Mazwell Leigh Eidinoff, Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, Edward Tripp, Betty MacDonald, Hyman and Alice Chanover, Jean Ritchie, Gladys Baker Bond, Else Holmelund Minarik, Sesyle Joslin, Eva Le Gallienne, Janice May Udry, Wilhelm Hauff, Robert Graves, Charlotte Zolotow, Frank Stockton, Amos Vogel, Robert Keeshan, Randall Jarell, Alec Wilder, Isaac Bashevis Singer, George MacDonald, Jan Wahl, Frank Corsaro, E.T.A. Hoffman, Jack Sendak, Phillip Sendak, Rudolf Tesnohlidek, Iona and Peter Opie, Arthur Yorinks, Henrich von Kleist, James Marshall, Ursula Nordstrom, Tony Kushner, and Doris Orgel.
He acheived fame and notariety also for his work in theatre, opera, and ballet. He designed many sets, back drops, posters, promotional materials, and costumes. His illustrations appeared on the cover of the New Yorker. His posters promoted theatre works and benefits, including those for the New York Public Library.
Sendak as Picture Book Psychologist. The publishing of Where the Wild Things Are in 1963 brought with it controversy and criticism. Children's literature entered a new era. Sendak introduced the reality of children's emotions, negative and positive, to the content of children's books. This earned him the nickname of "Picture Book Psychologist. John Cech referred to Sendak as "one of the principal mythologists of childhood." Psychologist Michael Thompson said that Where the Wild Things Are was the "best book on boy anger" of its time.
When asked in an interview with Walter Lorraine, "Can you define what a picture book is for you?" Sendak replied:
"It's my battleground. It's where I express myself. It's where I consolidate my powers and put them together in what I hope is a legitimate, viable form that is meaningful to somebody else and not just to me. It's where I work. It's where I put down those fantasies that have been with me all my life, and where I give them a form that means something. I live inside the picture book; that's where I fight all my battles, and where I hope to win my wars."
Sendak - On Play and Childhood Themes. Sendak addressed not only the real emotions of childhood but delivered an innovative perspective on the themes of childhood, such as dreams, play, parent and sibling relationships. For the nudity displayed in his drawings, he was censored. For the emotions he expressed, he was rejected. Yet he achieved acclaim by a generation that was ready for him. Children and their parents read and listened. After the publication of Where the Wild Things Are, he received numerous letters from children. One such letter read: "Dear Mr. Sendak, How much does it cost to get to where the wild things are? If it is not expensive, my sister and I would like to spend the summer there."
For more information about Sendak's many books, illustrations, and work, see the Sendak Bibliography.
For links to other websites, libraries, museums honoring Sendak's work, see the Sendak Webliography.
See examples of Sendak's work in the Photo Gallery.
The Celebration of Maurice Sendak Exhibit, curated by Jill Woolums, Librarian,will be on display at the Education Psychology Library from August through December 2012.