Maurice Sendak, the author, artist and poet best known for Where the Wild Things Are has passed away at the age of 83. You may not have known him by name, because when you first read his books you were probably a kid and too busy looking at the illustrations and reading the stories. Now all grown up, you can probably appreciate the enduring genius of the man’s work.
His children’s books were an extension of his worldly wisdom. “I think it is unnatural to think that there is such a thing as a blue-sky, white-clouded happy childhood for anybody. Childhood is a very, very tricky business of surviving it. Because if one thing goes wrong or anything goes wrong, and usually something goes wrong, then you are compromised as a human being. You’re going to trip over that for a good part of your life.”
Sendak created tales with a dash of darkness and a touch of wickedness. His worlds were places of complexity and dark humour. “Children do live in fantasy and reality; they move back and forth very easily in a way we no longer remember how to do,” he said.
You also have Sendak to thank for that other great bastion of childhood, the 1986 film The Labyrinth, in which David Bowie almost stole the show as the goblin king with inappropriately form-fitting pants. Jim Henson acknowledged the film’s debt to Sendak by displaying copies of Outside Over There and Where The Wild Things Are in Sarah’s room at the beginning of the movie.
While Where The Wild Things Are was his most widely recognised book, the man was pretty prolific. Here are five of his most popular works, filled with monsters, naughty children and magic.
All books are available on amazon.com