And the Wild Things Roared Their Terrible Roars…

Rest in Peace, Mau­rice Sendak.

Mau­rice Sendak, widely con­sid­ered the most impor­tant children’s book artist of the 20th cen­tury, who wrenched the pic­ture book out of the safe, san­i­tized world of the nurs­ery and plunged it into the dark, ter­ri­fy­ing and haunt­ingly beau­ti­ful recesses of the human psy­che, died on Tues­day in Dan­bury, Conn. He was 83 and lived in Ridge­field, Conn.

The cause was com­pli­ca­tions from a recent stroke, said Michael di Capua, his long­time editor.

Roundly praised, inter­mit­tently cen­sored and occa­sion­ally eaten, Mr. Sendak’s books were essen­tial ingre­di­ents of child­hood for the gen­er­a­tion born after 1960 or there­abouts, and in turn for their chil­dren. He was known in par­tic­u­lar for more than a dozen pic­ture books he wrote and illus­trated him­self, most famously “Where the Wild Things Are,” which was simul­ta­ne­ously genre-breaking and career-making when it was pub­lished by Harper & Row in 1963.

Among the other titles he wrote and illus­trated, all from Harper & Row, are “In the Night Kitchen” (1970) and “Out­side Over There” (1981), which together with “Where the Wild Things Are” form a tril­ogy; “The Sign on Rosie’s Door” (1960); “Hig­glety Pig­glety Pop!” (1967); and “The Nut­shell Library” (1962), a boxed set of four tiny vol­umes com­pris­ing “Alli­ga­tors All Around,” “Chicken Soup With Rice,” “One Was Johnny” and “Pierre.”

In Sep­tem­ber, a new pic­ture book by Mr. Sendak, “Bumble-Ardy” — the first in 30 years for which he pro­duced both text and illus­tra­tions — was issued by Harper­Collins Pub­lish­ers. The book, which spent five weeks on the New York Times children’s best-seller list, tells the not-altogether-lighthearted story of an orphaned pig (his par­ents are eaten) who gives him­self a riotous birth­day party.

A posthu­mous pic­ture book, “My Brother’s Book” — a poem writ­ten and illus­trated by Mr. Sendak and inspired by his love for his late brother, Jack — is sched­uled to be pub­lished next February.

It’s hard to think of an Amer­i­can house­hold which did not have a copy of “Where the Wild Things Are” at some­time or another.  He will be missed, but his legacy remains in the hearts of chil­dren of all ages.

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