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Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak (1928-2012) was an American author and illustrator. His major breakthrough was Where the Wild Things Are, published in 1963, where he all at once revolutionised the entire picture book narrative. It has been widely translated and read by generations of children all over the world.

Quick facts

Name Maurice Sendak
Birthyear Brooklyn, New York, 1928
Country United States
Profession Author and illustrator
Award year 2003

The jury’s motivation

"Maurice Sendak is the modern picture book's portal figure. He is unparalleled in developing the picture book's unique possibilities of narrating - to the joy of constant new picture book illustrators. Furthermore, he is one of the most courageous researchers of the most secret recesses of childhood - to the delight of constant new readers."

American author and illustrator, born in Brooklyn, New York. 1928-2012.


Sendak was born in a poor emigrant family from Poland. The Holocaust during World War II made a profound impression on his work. Maurice Sendak's major breakthrough was Where the Wild Things Are, 1963, where he all at once revolutionised the entire picture-book narrative. Unlike any other contemporary picture-book artist, he changed the entire landscape of the modern picture-book - thematically, aesthetically and psychologically. Primarily it is in the dozen or so books that Sendak both wrote and illustrated, where he penetrated the most secret recesses of childhood.


The visual expression of a child's inner landscape, which one meets already in Where the Wild Things Are, became Sendak's hallmark books such as In the Night Kitchen, 1970 and Outside Over There, 1981.


As an illustrator of other people's texts, e.g. of children's books by George MacDonald, Randall Jarrell and Meindert DeJong, Sendak demonstrated in a wonderful way how pictures can emphasize new meanings of a text.


Sendak received a spate of awards, including two Caldecott Medals (1964 and 1974) and the Hans Christian Andersen Medal from IBBY (1970). He passed away on May 8, 2012, at an age of 83 years.