Maurice Sendak was born on June 10, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York. He was born to Polish-Jewish parents who immigrated to the United States. As a young boy he was often sick, so he was kept indoors. Maurice had to find activities to keep busy and he found that his imagination was somewhere that he could escape to. There, the spark was lit for a lifetime of drawing and illustrating.
He became a prominent children’s book illustrator during the 1950s and 1960s. A majority of his books hid themes that taught life lessons. For example, his most famous book Where the Wild Things Are, was written in 1963. This book pictured a boy “running away” from home, escaping to an island of monsters. The major themes here are the use of your Imagination, being Independent, and Overcoming Obstacles/Fear. These themes are prominent especially in becoming an adult, but can be applied for any age. Interestingly enough, this book was banned in certain places for it was deemed too dark and damaging to children.
A major influence on his work was the Holocaust in which occurred in the early years of his life. Many of his family members experienced the Holocaust first hand and suffered its wrath. Having to see death at such a young age caused him to have a negative view on childhood. This factor played a large role on his drawing style and themes that were placed in his books, which were occasionally frowned upon.
Despite the “darker” parts of the books, the illustrations are very well done. The line-work is by far my favorite aspect. The ability to use the lines to convey a certain mood takes skill and Maurice applies it well. His duller color choice in Where the Wild Things Are also incite a unique feeling into the reader.
Maurice Sendak passed away on May 9, 2012. He wrote and illustrated right up until he passed. He had an extremely successful career and has plenty to show for it.