(born 1928 Brooklyn, New York) American children’s illustrator. Maurice Sendak, son of Polish Jewish immigrants, grew up sickly and as a result spent most of his childhood indoors, where he often observed children playing outside and would sketch them. He was fascinated with Disney, particularly Mickey Mouse and the film Fantasia, which he saw when he was twelve and had a lasting effect on him. In 1948 he worked at FAO Schwartz as a window dresser while he took night classes at the New York Arts Students League. Eventually leaving his work to become a full time children’s illustrator, Sendak was quite active in the 1950s, in which he illustrated fifty children’s books. Sendak strongly believed that illustrations are not meant to simplify the text by visualizing what is written, but rather to add an element of ambiguity that leads to curiosity on the part of the reader. By the 1960s Sendak achieved great fame; in 1963 his most popular book Where The Wild Things Are was published, which has since sold over 2 million copies and has been translated into fifteen languages. The 1970s found even more success, with In The Night Kitchen published in 1970. By the late 1970s Sendak began exploring set design, producing and designing operas including Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Hansel and Gretel, and a theatrical production of Where The Wild Things Are. Sendak continued writing and illustrating books, including Outside Over There in 1982 and The Nutcracker in 1983. Sendak has received numerous awards, including the Caldecott Book Medal in 1964, the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1970, the National Medal of Arts in 1996, Library of Congress “Living Legend” Medal in 2000 and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for Literature in 2003. Sendak lives in Ridgefield, CT.
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