A Conversation with Maurice Sendak

On Life, and Living

Maurice Sendak at 76. i i

hide captionAt 76, Maurice Sendak still has that glint in his eye.

Alice Winkler, NPR
Maurice Sendak at 76.

At 76, Maurice Sendak still has that glint in his eye.

Alice Winkler, NPR
Mickey Mouse rocking chair owned by Maurice Sendak.

hide captionOne of Sendak's favorite things is his Mickey Mouse rocking chair.

Alice Winkler, NPR
Herman, the German Shepherd, curls up on a 'Wild Things' rug.

hide captionHerman, the German Shepherd, curls up on a rug with a 'Where the Wild Things Are' theme.

Alice Winkler, NPR

From 'Bears'

Detail from cover of 'Bears' shows Max snuggled into bed. i i

hide captionMax, one of the most endearing characters in children's literature, is safe abed surrounded by friends.

HarperCollins
Detail from cover of 'Bears' shows Max snuggled into bed.

Max, one of the most endearing characters in children's literature, is safe abed surrounded by friends.

HarperCollins

From 'A Hole Is to Dig'

Illustration of children opening package from 'A Hole Is to Dig'

hide captionA package is to look inside...

HarperCollins

His favorite subject? "Scaring children."

His most treasured possessions? Mickey Mouse memorabilia.

His best buddy? A boisterous German Shepherd named for Herman Melville.

This is Maurice Sendak at 76, as Jennifer Ludden found after a trip into the New England woods to interview the famed author and illustrator of books for young readers, best known for 1964's Where the Wild Things Are.

"Maurice Sendak looks kinda like a Wild Thing," Ludden notes. "Curly hair on a balding head... a glint in the eye... yet a softening smile around the mouth."

But Sendak's latest published work isn't scary at all. It's a re-illustration of a 1948 book by one of his mentors, Ruth Krauss, called Bears. The drawings put Max, the hero of Wild Things, in slightly friendlier surroundings. But he still finds himself in the middle of an adventure.

Krauss, best known for The Carrot Seed and husband Crockett Johnson, creator of Harold and the Purple Crayon, met Sendak at 22, after he had suffered a series of rejection from publishers.

His big break came through illustrating the Krauss book A Hole Is to Dig. The little volume of definitions features a softer, simpler Sendak.

Alice Winkler produced this piece.

Books Featured In This Story

Bears
Bears

by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak

Hardcover, 1 v. (unpaged) | purchase

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Purchase Featured Books

  • Bears
  • Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak
A Hole Is to Dig
A Hole Is to Dig

A First Book of First Definitions

by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak

Hardcover, [48] p. | purchase

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Purchase Featured Books

  • A Hole Is to Dig
  • A First Book of First Definitions
  • Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak

Purchase Featured Music

The Carrot Seed

by Ruth Krauss/Crockett Johnson

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