Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Sendak, of ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ Has Died

Quintessential children’s book author with a dark side

Print Email
From the cover of In the Night Kitchen.(Wikipedia)

Maurice Sendak, who helped create childhood for several generations, died yesterday at 83. In the Night Kitchen, Chicken Soup With Rice, and, of course, Where the Wild Things Are are indelible classics that won’t be going anywhere (except maybe onto the e-book devices Sendak told Stephen Colbert loathed). His collaborators have included Art Spiegelman (on this magnificent page), Carole King (who set music to stories like “Pierre” and “One Was Johnny” to create the musical Really Rosie), and Tony Kushner (who wrote the words to 2003’s Brundibar).

Get the picture? Sendak’s life and work are pretty inseparable from his Jewishness, and particularly his dark, cynical inflection of it. “The Holocaust,” he once said, “has run like a river of blood through all my books” (he was born in Brooklyn, but many relatives died in the Shoah). “Childhood is cannibals and psychotics vomiting in your mouth!” he tells Spiegelman in that page.

“In reality,” he continues, “childhood is deep and rich. It’s vital, mysterious, and profound. I remember my own childhood vividly … I know terrible things … But I know I mustn’t let adults know I knew. … It would scare them.”

Maurice Sendak, Author of Splendid Nightmares, Dies at 83 [NYT]
Related: Concerns Beyond Just Where the Wild Things Are [NYT]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

jcarpenter says:

My daughter, raised on Sendak books, in anticipation of her first child, bought old paperback copies of “Where the Wild Things Are” and made framed pictures/collages of the Sendak artwork to decorate the baby’s room (along with Corduroy Bear, ducks from  Make Way For Ducklings)—my grand-daughter, Elizabeth, routinely points out the pics, and “Max” has been one of her first words . . . . blessings, and thanks, Maurice Sendak.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Sendak, of ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ Has Died

Quintessential children’s book author with a dark side

More on Tablet:

Wolf Blitzer Explores His Jewish Roots

By David Meir Grossman — CNN host visits Yad Vashem and Auschwitz for the network’s ‘Roots’ series