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Who Was Maurice Sendak?

by Janet Pascal

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725272,512 (4.17)1
"It seems entirely fitting that Maurice Sendak was born on the same day that Mickey Mouse first made his cartoon debut--June 10, 1928. Sendak was crazy about cartoons and comic books, and at twelve, after seeing Disney's Fantasia, he decided that he was going to become an illustrator. His love of childrens books began early: often sick and confined to bed, little Maurice read and read and read. Though many of his own stories were light and funny, the most important ones--Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There--dealt with anger, jealousy, abandonment, content that had never before been the subject of picture books. As well as covering career highlights, this easy to read, illustrated biography also describes the personal life of this genius. Who Was Maurice Sendak is perfect for kids wild about one of the most influential children's book artists of the twentieth century!"-- "Maurice Sendak, born June 10, 1928, was a writer and illustrator of children's books. This easy-to-read, illustrated biography describes the career and personal life of this genius"--… (more)



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Who Was Maurice Sendak
Sam Wright
Maurice Sendak wrote and illustrated Where the wild things are. He grew up in Brooklyn. It was around the time Mickey Mouse was invented. He and his brother Jack were the closest of friends. It is how he became so good at writing and illustrating. His disadvantage, was he very sick as kid. He almost died so many times. So sad. He got the book Prince and the pauper. At the movies he’d get so excited, he’d stand on his seat and SCREAM! Once he thought “Hey I should put a dog in one of my stories.” So he put his dog in a story.
  samw.b2 | Dec 10, 2018 |
The Who Is/Who Was series of biographies is extremely popular amongst its target audience of middle grades students. These books are constantly flying off the shelves at our library, so I became interested in reading some. To evaluate how good they are, I've read some on subjects I knew a fair amount about beforehand and others on subjects I was unfamiliar with for the most part. This title fits into the latter category as the only remotely biographical information I knew about Maurice Sendak came from a series of interviews he did with Stephen Colbert not long before his death.

So this book definitely was a learning moment for me. In addition to not having much biographical background on Sendak, I had only ever read his Where the Wild Things Are and none of his other works. As much of this book talks about the different titles he wrote and/or illustrated (including how parts of his life influenced those works), I was inspired to track down and read several more of his books. Knowing the stories behind his books was incredibly fascinating. For instance, Sendak's beloved and famous work originally grew out of him liking the title Where the Wild Horses Are, but he realized his skill at drawing horses was not quite what he wanted it to be.

This book is straightforward and factual about Sendak's life, noting how and why some of his books were controversial. It also doesn't shy away from mentioning that Sendak was homosexual, which I'm glad to see wasn't passed over to appease a small but vocal contingency that still objects to even acknowledging such relationships exist (especially letting children know this). The book makes liberal use of quotes from Sendak derived from his various interviews over the years, my favorite quotation being, "The best illustrated books ... are the books where the text does one thing and the pictures say something just a little off-center of the language, so they're both doing something ... The most boring books are where the pictures are restating the text."

Backmatter includes a timeline and bibliography. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Feb 25, 2018 |
This biography follows the life of the famous author, Maurice Sendak. He grew up as the son of a dressmaker and storyteller, and later became a storyteller himself. He was an author and illustrator of well-loved and well-known children's picture books. His most popular book is "Where the Wild Things Are". Later on in life, he ended up designing costumes and sets for operas and ballets more than he did illustrating. While he said that he did not leave books, he said that he found a new career. He spent the rest of his life working on operas and only writing books that were special to him.

Personal Reaction:
I never really knew about Maurice Sendak outside of "Where the Wild Things Are". I am really glad I read this book. It was interesting to read about his life, his other books, and his new career. I learned that you don't have to be confined to a career just because you have been doing it for so long. You should definitely explore new careers that align more with your interests.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1. Read "Where the Wild Things Are" to the class.
2. Have each of the students write and illustrate a book similar to "Where the Wild Things Are", but with them as the main character.
  JennyDodson | Apr 21, 2016 |
I found this book to be very helpful in researching Maurice Sendak due to the book's illustrations and engaging writing. Although the biography is a chapter book, the author made the decision to incorporate black and white sketches throughout the book which, as a visual learner, enhanced my comprehension of the information as I was reading. The illustrations were also very realistic looking and looked like black and white photographs. The writing throughout the biography was very engaging. The engaging writing allowed reading the book to go by very effortlessly, making it a very quick read for me. The book begins with a fun fact that President Obama has read Where the Wild Things Are 3 years in a row at the White House Easter Egg Roll. Incorporating this fun fact at the beginning of the book captivating my attention, which surprised me because I initially thought the book would not be very engaging due to my past experiences with biographies. The main idea to this book was to teach readers the impact Maurice Sendak had not only on the people who read his books, but on children's literature all together. Because of Maurice Sendak, children's literature now incorporates topics and emotions other than positive and happy. This allows children to better relate to literature, considering human nature is never a consistent positive and happy. ( )
  lhanso1 | Apr 16, 2015 |
I greatly enjoyed this “Who Was...” book. The main idea of this book is to share the life and accomplishments of Maurice Sendak to children. For my Author/Illustrator project, I had Maurice Sendak. There were many dark and cruel moments in Sendak's life that could be inappropriate for children. However, I found that this chapter book did a wonderful job in making intense moments in Sendak's life a bit lighter and easy to approach for children. For example, Maurice Sendak has a fairly “colorful” vocabulary and explained how he felt about e-books. The “Who Was...” series translated his quote into this, “The first e-book reader is introduced. Maurice Sendak hates it.” I also appreciated on how the book went into depth in explaining certain words in the book that may be unfamiliar to readers. For example, Maurice Sendak loved Mickey Mouse, so the author discussed how Mickey Mouse was inspirational to Sendak. Then, on the next page, there was an entire book dedicated to informing readers who Mickey Mouse is. All in all, I thought this book did an amazing job in sharing all of Sendak's most important and valuable moments. ( )
  yyoon4 | Nov 20, 2014 |
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