Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak comes from Brooklyn, New York. He was born in 1928, the youngest of three children.

His parents were poor Polish immigrants who came to the United States before World War I. Many of the family’s relatives in Poland died in the Holocaust during World War II. His family suffered greatly over their lost family members. To add to their concerns, Maurice himself was sickly as a child. His mother worried constantly about his health and safety. You will see that most of his books have a moon somewhere in the picture watching over the scene. The moon is his mother peaking out the window at him when he was a child to be sure that he was alright!

Maurice Sendak loved to have his father read aloud to him at night before bedtime. He didn’t like school much and wasn’t good at sports, but he loved to read and often asked his sister to get him books from the library. In an interview on his favorite books as a child, Marice Sendak: A Western Canon, he had many favorites. His sister gave him his first book, Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. He loved that book and still has it today. Other favorites were Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses.

As a young adult, he liked great super–duper adventure stories by authors such as Herman Melville and his books, Typee and Moby Dick. Another favorite was Bret Harte’s short story, “The Luck of Roaring Camp (3)”. He began his work as an illustrator while he was still in high school. He helped in drawing the pictures from the comic strip, Mutt and Jeff into comic books. He went to art school at the Art Students’ League to continue his education. He co-authored his very first published book, Atomics for the Millions that was published in 1947. He was just nineteen years old! Since then he has given us many, many wonderful books.

Maurice Sendak is a man of many talents. He designed wooden toys with his brother. He did the lyrics for an animated film for television called Really Rosie, which is from his books, the Nutshell Library. Carol King did the music. He has written the words (called libretto) for an opera, Where the Wild Things Are, based on his classic children’s book. He greatly enjoys designing sets and costumes for operas as well.