Share your Sendak story.

Submitted by admin on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 9:09am


In honor of Maurice Sendak’s passing on May 8, 2012, the Rosenbach collected people’s thoughts and stories about Maurice Sendak. You may read them below.


30 comments posted

Received by mail

Submitted by Judy Levering, Wong (not verified) on Fri, 07/20/2012 - 2:05pm.

Thank-you for the items that I received from you, book “Outside Over There” and the two plushes, Max and Bernard. I will call for “Sipi” We decided we will need the “Moishe” 15 inch plush also. I cant wait to help out sometime late this year to early next year. Thank-you for all that you have done, Judy

Share your Sendak story. | Rosenbach Museum and Library

Submitted by corsets (not verified) on Wed, 09/05/2012 - 1:56am.

I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really
nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later. All the best

A Wild Thing

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/17/2012 - 8:27pm.

As an elementary school teacher I loved children’s books. When Maurice Sendak moved to my town it was very exciting. He was a private person and generous in spirit. He donated drawings to schools and to causes. My husband and I went to a McGovern for President fund-raiser and saw that Mr. Sendak had donated an original signed drawing of Moishe. My husband bid and so did Stephen Schwartz. The drawing was my Valentine present that year. I have cherished it since 1974.

Where the Wild Things Are

Submitted by L. Huzway (not verified) on Wed, 06/13/2012 - 2:50pm.

My grandmother’s sister knew Maury Sendak from a young age. The monsters in Where the Wild Things Are are based on people that Maury knew, and the female monster…well, my grandmother’s sister was her inspiration. A doll of the female monster sat on display at my grandmother’s house for decades, and it wasn’t until I was old enough to read and my grandmother was reading to me, what else, Where the Wild Things Are that I learned of the female monster’s origins. As I got older, I got to hear more stories about how my grandmother’s sister was the inspiration and about how she reacted when presented with a draft of the story.

My grandmother passed in 2010, but every time I hear of Maury Sendak or Where the Wild Things Are, it think of her. I’m so very lucky to have that ever present physical reminder of her and family altogether.

Art father...

Submitted by Heather Hogan-Spencer (not verified) on Tue, 06/12/2012 - 12:35am.

It had been my deepest wish to meet you, sir… As an artist, we find other artists who become like parents to us… We revisit their works daily, looking for teachings, guidance, inspiration… You were mine, Mr. Sendak. And though we’ve never even met, I feel like I’ve lost a father. Good night. Sleep tight. Thank you, and, I love you.

A Part of Our Lives

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/07/2012 - 3:04pm.

When I first came upone the Bat-Poet illustrated by Maurice, it took a while for me to realize, that in connection with “Where the Wild Things Are” that you had written this. In sadness to someone who I never really knew other than obtaining your beautifully illustrated books, it has been aaddening that you have parted. As an artist myself, partly from similar, faiths, I wish I had had more of an opportunity. As I never knew what you looked like, as that wasnt important, more who you are and what you have meant to the world of children. The article within the “New Yorker” was the first time I ever saw a photo of a man who inspired the world. Besides reading “Little Bear Books” that you so wonderfully illustrated, I remember reading “Where the WIld Things Are” in 1976, to a child of 2 named Ryan and then, not knowing that you had both illustrated and written the book. After several readings as I sat with Ryan on my lap, he would tell me “Eat the Book” well, hes was only 2. I would “Eat the Book” and read it over and over. It didnt take long for me to know this book and love it. 20 years later, as it is the winter holiday we are unwratpping gifts, we celebrate both Hannukah and Christmas that we state as the”Winter Holiday”, My sons first book was “Where The Wild Things Are”, In 1997 I read to them the first book that they ever received in print by you. Later on, without knowing that you had done illustrations on the window of FAO Swartz, I had bought “In the Night Kitchen” by you at none other than FAO Swartz. You see, throughout my life I had been doing these things that meant you were in my life, but I never wa smart enough to acknowledge what I was doing. I have no one else to blame but myself. In 2009, I even took my children, then 14 years old to see the movie production “Where the Wild Things Are”, as I liked the movie just like the book. The stories about “In the Night Kitchen” that some states have banned, because of nudity of a child, must be banned in those states because those people are not artists or do not read. As the number of potty books(educating parents and children on how to us the potty, illustrate children using the potty and they are naked, not to mention showing their penus or urethra, and anus. Children, from the time they are little are constantly exploring, trying to find out why a boy has one and a girl does not. Before I understood that you were talking about the Holocaust and the ovens, I really, from a child’s viewpoint thought that it was a child falling into a pillow of dough and flour, and many children love playing with dough, and would love to fall in it. From a child’s perspective this is all that they understand. Children are wonderful because instead of analyzing it from a mental viewpoint, they look and read it for face value. As I reread “The Bat-Poet” a book that I received when I was six, I just think of how different life is today for young people. Times have changed, but the traditions live on forever… you….Happy 84th birthday, “Let the Rhumbus Begin” and “Bumble-Ardy”. Love, Judy

Vincent, birthday cake and good-bye

Submitted by Denise (not verified) on Mon, 05/14/2012 - 8:57am.

Thank you.

Sendak Godsend

Submitted by Graham Campbell (not verified) on Thu, 05/10/2012 - 3:26am.

Well like many contributors, I’m too old to have had Sendak in my childhood, but not for two later generations. read and re-read to my two children from the get-go in England, and then with my granddaughter in Australia … never scared by the stories or illustrations, always fascinated by the characters and themes - I suspect they actually made the world a less scary place.

Most popular: Higgelty Pigglety Pop, In the Night Kitchen, Where the Wild Things Are and most favoured - Inside, Outside, Over There. Irreplaceable in the world of children’s books and illustration. What now?

An opportunity to See Maurice

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 06/11/2012 - 4:21am.

I think it was remarkable to have the opportunity to see Maurice and schedule the meeting so far in advance, and to see him in July. I can imagine the memoirs that you will keep, will be for a life time
Just recently, I was thinking, and wondering as I realize I am writing this letter to The Rosenbach Museum and library, Is it possible that his home in Danbury, Conneticut would be open for the public to view. It is a way to open the minds of our young people about art and to allow many of us who knew him briefly, and others who knew him well, to go and discover what his studio is like. It is a thought, and a great request, but for a man of a genius in creating art and illustration that he has been, I think the idea is a good one. He is seen in my mind as one of the greatest artists of childrens literature, and I can see his work in relationshiop to some of the greatest artists that we have known. “I think of him as a master of the minds of children, the one in all of us.” with gifts of love, Judy

A Summer Day with Maurice Sendak

Submitted by Helen Hoffner (not verified) on Wed, 05/09/2012 - 7:17pm.

One January night, I read a notice that Iona College planned to host a summer workhshop on children’s literature with Maurice Sendak as one of the speakers. I registered immediately and prayed that Mr. Sendak would still be available when summer came.
On a bright July morning, I sat in the front row and was enthralled as Maurice Sendak explained his works, drew pictures for his audience, and patiently answered our questions. He signed our books and thanked us for coming to spend time with him. I cherish that special summer day and will always remember his graciousness.

Good bye maurice

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 05/09/2012 - 4:58pm.

I am too old for MS to have been part of my childhood but he was a very important part of my son’s childhood. We have seen his opera and his Sleeping Beauty. His art inspired my son’s drawing and his stories touched him. It is sad to think there will be no more from this generous hearted curmudgeon and, yet, we were so very fortunate to have had him at all. Rest in peace old dear.

My Happy Mickey Mouse Trade with Maurice Sendak

Submitted by Nancie Burkett (not verified) on Wed, 05/09/2012 - 12:06pm.

I met Maurice in 1981 in the Rosenbach garden after one of his openings. After long hesitation, I finally approached and asked him whether he might be interested in adding my old Mickey Mouse rocker to his collection — I didn’t want money but suggested a trade for a drawing. He was very particular about condition so I promised photos after I retrieved the rocker from the attic of our summer home. Months later, after several letters, a phone call, and messages relayed by the Rosenbach’s Walter Johnson, a sheet-shrouded Mickey was driven to Connecticut. Maurice loved it and I was very relieved! Later, Maurice sent me his part of the exchange — a drawing of the famous Max riding the Mickey Mouse rocker — wow! Walter clearly thought I got the better part of the bargain, but Maurice and I were both happy with the deal.
On June 8 of 1982, two days before his birthday, Maurice returned for another opening and accepted an invitation for a birthday dinner at our Society Hill home. It was a low-key affair for ten mostly Rosenbach staff and my biggest problem was getting the awe struck server to come out of the kitchen. My standard poodle sat on Maurice’s foot during dinner and we talked about dogs, Mozart, and travel. I showed him his drawing in situ where Max was merrily waving directly at a waving Leopold Stokowski (an artifact from one of my high school journalism adventures, which is another story.) It’s a remarkable coincidence that the two pictures form a perfect Fantasia memoir — and a wonderful Maurice Sendak memoir for me.

In memory of a beloved author and storyteller

Submitted by Terri (not verified) on Wed, 05/09/2012 - 11:07am.

My now 24-year-old son and I share fond memories together of reading and delighting in Maurice Sendak’s books when he was a youngster. Our personal favorite was, “In the Night Kitchen,” which I would read aloud to him as “…in the ni-i-i-i-i-ght(!) kitchen!” We both mourn Mr. Sendak’s passing, and hope he is mixing it up with the chef’s in his own night kitchen now. RIP, Maurice. Thank you for the joy you brought this then young mother and her then young son.
-Terri & Trevor Maurer

Memory of Sendak

Submitted by Barbara Platt (not verified) on Wed, 05/09/2012 - 10:15am.

Many years ago, in a town not far from Ridgefield, CT,(where Sendak lived quietly)I was in charge of programming for our synagogue’s sisterhood and had occasion to call Mr. Sendak whose number was, surprisingly, listed in the phonebook. I asked if he would be interested in coming to speak to the women in the group and, of course, he was not interested.

What ensued, much to my delight, was a personal conversation about his current frame of mind which was typically dark and discouraged but shared with a biting wit and an unapologetic attitude.

He was far from a garden variety depressed man. He was far from a garden variety anything! I would urge all serious fans to go on npr and listen to the compilation of 4 interviews Terry Gross conducted with him, over the years, for Fresh Air that was aired last night. (5/8/2012) The last, given shortly after the 10th anniversary of 9/11, is an unforgettable experience. I have listened to Fresh Air, faithfully, for a very long time and the closing remarks between Sendak, whose voice is voluptuous with emotion and Gross, who becomes, uncharacteristically emotional - will, I assure you, haunt you the rest of your life. Just as his illustrations haunt all of us.

The world is a little less bright

Submitted by Ben Mills (not verified) on Wed, 05/09/2012 - 9:05am.

I was saddened to hear of the death of Maurice Sendak yesterday. I believe he was, and will remain, the master of the pen and ink illustration of the late 20th century. His talent stretched far beyond black and white, into a world of color and energy, and I always looked forward to a new publication to see what surprises awaited.

Apart from his art, I also loved his personality. He was opinionated, brash, and harsh at times, but there was no one else who could speak about childhood, and what that means to an adult, like Mr. Sendak.

The older I get, the more I feel the loss of my heroes of this world. Those people who are driven, outspoken, and impact the lives of so many others in ways that we never fully realize, until we later remember that they no longer walk the face of this earth.

Goodbye Maurice

Submitted by Lenore Schultheis (not verified) on Wed, 05/09/2012 - 6:58am.

I love the Rosenbach’s collection of Maurice Sendak’s work, and I know that their tribute to his life and work will be lovely as well.


Submitted by Bill Holt (not verified) on Wed, 05/09/2012 - 6:55am.

Suzie, my SO, and I saw the Sendak set for Operatic Hansel and Gretel and almost immediately thereafter, the MET’s new version. All the magic was in Sendak’s. He was a great magic-maker. His art seems to me to be only a component of a larger talent.

Teaching to love reading

Submitted by Teresa Martin (not verified) on Wed, 05/09/2012 - 1:53am.

How many meanings can the word ‘wild’ treasure? How can stories be not always the same? How can we enjoy stories and show others how to love them? Maurice Sendak answers through his stories and teaches us, children that have grown up, maybe as teachers as myself, to go on everyday loving the meaning of words and the greatness of stories. Thank you Maurice Sendak.

Farewell fellow Brooklynite

Submitted by Stephen Berr (not verified) on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 9:47pm.

Shlof gezunte hait. You have been accused (unfairly) of disturbing children’s dreams, but really you knew children well, and you really eased their fears. Though you and I feel the same way about what happens when we die, I hope you have reunited with your brother.

very sad

Submitted by D Adonis (not verified) on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 7:44pm.

I met Mr Sendak while in Art school. I was amazed at his pen/ink work, and to see his scripts and sketches was amazing. My daughter is an adult but I still have “Where The Wild Things Are” I read to her as a child.
May you Rest In Peace

The loss of Maurice Sendak

Submitted by Susan Browne (not verified) on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 7:15pm.

The loss of Maurice Sendak certainly causes a moment to remember and reflect for those of us who love children’s literature. I remember giving the picture book to my daughter and many years later to my grandson and great-nephew when they were both toddlers. The boys were so young that they needed help with the wrapping paper. When the paper was torn and the book revealed, both of their mother’s almost in unison screamed, “My favorite book!” That’s the impact of Where the Wild Things Are. It has been a favorite book for so many. When thinking about Maurice Sendak’s passing, I can’t help but think of Dr. Lawrence Sipe who passed away just more than a year ago. Dr. Sipe was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s graduate school of education. Much of his work was devoted to children’s response to picture books. In his courses, he brought scholarly meaning to the magic of Sendak’s Dear Mili, We Are All in the Dumps With Jack and Guy and of course Where the Wild Things Are. I imagine that they are both in the same place now. What wonderful rumpus!

Paz en su tumba

Submitted by Maria (not verified) on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 7:10pm.

Maurice Sendak was one our favorite authors to read. We enjoy his stories, my girls loved to sing and play “Really Rosie”. I have read his books together with many parents and children.
Maurice Sendak legacy will be remember for ever.
¡Qué Dios le tenga es su gloria!

Discovering Maurice Sendak

Submitted by Judith Sussholtz (not verified) on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 7:05pm.

As an education major at Queens College in the late fifties, I spent every moment I could in the Education Library, which had an extensive collection of children’s books—a great place to find what I had missed as a child and what had been published since I’d left the Children’s Section of my branch of the NY Public. There I found several small books, text by Ruth(?) Kraus, ink (I think) drawings by Maurice Sendak. I became a fan, watching for more. When “In the Night Kitchen” and “Where the Wild Things Are” were published, I got them for my own children. When I moved to Philly, I was delighted to find Marianne Moore, James Joyce, and Maurice Sendak sheltered under a single roof. I was fortunate to be living in London when the opera of “Wild Things” premiered, with sets and costumes by Maurice Sendak. When my grandson was born, I bought “Wild Things” for him instantly, though he would not be ready for Max for a couple of years. I have followed this sensitive, intuitively fine and visually engaging artist for over fifty years. What a pleasure he has been!

So many touch points in life

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 5:13pm.

I grew up with Sendak drawings in such books as ‘What Would You Say, Dear’ and ‘What Would You Do, Dear’. In my entrance interview for Graduate school, the head of the dept quoted from ‘Where The Wild Things Are’. I never thought I’d be able to do that, until I had a son named Max. Then the book became his anthem and I was able to quote from it! His influence in our house led to a collection of his books and artwork. A visit to the Rosenbach several years ago was amazing, so many significant books topped off by a display of Sendak’s work. He will be missed!


Submitted by Stan (not verified) on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 5:08pm.

My Grandfather Samuel Schindler was Maurices Mothers Brother. I am his second cousin. My 3 children, 5 grandchildren an 2 great grandchildren have enjoyed his books for years. I have not seen him in 40 years. We will all miss his wonderful work. We do have autugraph books of him to remember him by. Rest in peace.

Maurice Sendak in memorium

Submitted by Luci Smith (not verified) on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 4:30pm.

I started by reading Maurice Sendak’s stories to my younger brothers. “Pierre” is one of my all-time favorite poems. I also love “One Was Johnny” and every other drawing or story that I have ever seen or read by Mr. Sendak. Astrid Lindgren and Maurice Sendak are two of the writers who I met in my childhood and whose work I continue to enjoy because it has stayed with me for almost 50 years.I do not consider them writers of children’s books, but writers who are in contact with their inner child.
I only wish that more adults had the ability to stay in contact with their inner child. The world would be a much better place to be! Maurice Sendak was able to show us what is fascinating and scary and compelling in so few words and in such beautiful drawings. I do hope that more of his work will become available in print in the future. Each drawing is a treasure and the stories I read again and again.

a race against time

Submitted by Sarah Rabdau (not verified) on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 3:21pm.

No book or piece of art on earth has changed and shaped me as Outside Over There has. As a kid I read it daily. As a teenager, I carried it around in my backpack and would hand it to people when they asked me about myself, “Here. This is who I am.”
For the past few years I’ve been writing songs inspired by the book. The project and song cycle is called “Foolish Ida” and it’s my interpretation of how Ida would have grown up and been affected by the events from Outside Over There.
In recent years Sendak kept talking about death. So we raced against time to try and finish the record so that we could send it to him. I just wanted him to know how much I loved his work, and how it’s helped me throughout my life. We have the release scheduled for next week, and just yesterday I was editing the letter I had intended to send to him.
I know he is in a wonderful place, surrounded by all those that were lucky enough to love him and be loved by him. And for that, I am happy.
But I can’t help but miss the man I never met. There is a hole in my heart.
I’m so thankful for everything he’s given us all, and my deepest love and gratitude to his friends and family.

Sendak at The Jewish Museum

Submitted by Alex Wittenberg (not verified) on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 11:24am.

I work at The Jewish Museum in NYC, which hosted a show of Sendak’s work in 2005. What a marvelous, heartfelt show it was. And I got to see Mr. Sendak up close twice. The first time, he was seeing the show for the first time, and came upon a display where costumes from a Wild Things opera were displayed on mannequins. He looked at the mannequin representing Max, which had a blank face, and asked for some markers. On the spot he drew Max’s face on the fabric.

Two weeks later, he returned for an in-concert performance of Brundibar, followed by a conversation between him and Tony Kushner. Afterwards, I had the chance to shake his hand and say “thank you.” Oh that I could do that again.

How Fortunate to be a part of this

Submitted by Judy Levering, Wong (not verified) on Tue, 06/26/2012 - 12:54pm.

I can imagine that this memory holds true for you for many years to come……My Best, Judy

Inspirational + Influential

Submitted by Gary Meacher (not verified) on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 10:20am.

Maurice Sendak’s work has inspired my love for Art. Through Where The Wild Things Are, an obsession with Monsters was born, one that I find myself engulfed in on a regular basis.

A seemingly bitter old man when you read his interviews or watch a few documentaries. Id stray more towards a tortured spirit who can relate to the anxiety and harsh reality of childhood. He has a way of portraying “sensitive” subject matters to kids in a way that doesn’t insult a child’s intelligence. Never does he speak down to his audience. On a literary level, Maurice was a genius. Perhaps his most important contribution to the world of Children’s literature is the idea of not talking down to kids, treat them as equals.