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Maurice Sendak was the son of Jewish immigrants

DANBURY, Conn. – Maurice Sendak, the children’s author and illustrator best known for the 1963 classic “Where the Wild Things Are,” died Tuesday, May 8 in Danbury from complications from a stroke. He was 83

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1928, Sendak was the son of Sarah and Philip Sendak, Jewish immigrants from Poland. Much of his extended family was murdered in the Holocaust. As a young child he developed health problems and was bedridden for much of his youth. It was while confined in bed that he listened and was entertained by his father’s stories of the “Old Country.” He later drew on these stories when writing his own stories.

Sendak drew pictures for children’s books for most of the 1950s, including  I.B. Singer‘s collection “Zlateh the Goat,” a retelling of Eastern European Jewish folktales and Else Holmelund Minarik‘s “Little Bear” series.

“Where the Wild Things Are,” with its dark illustrations of scary monsters was published in 1963. Lauded critically and commercially, the book received the Caldecott Medal, awarded to the best American picture book for children. A film adaptation of “Where the Wild Things Are” directed by Spike Jonze and produced by Sendak was released in October of 2009.

Sendak was an early member of the National Board of Advisors of the Children’s Television Workshop during the development stages of the Sesame Street television series.

Sendak lived with his partner, psychoanalyst Eugene Glynn for 50 years before Glynn’s death in 2007.



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