9 May 2012

'Wild Things' author Maurice Sendak dies

6:57 am on 9 May 2012

American writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak, author of the best selling children's book Where the Wild Things Are, has died at the age of 83.

Sendak illustrated more than 50 books during his long career and won a number of prizes for his drawings.

Born in Brooklyn in 1928, Sendak was a sickly child and spent much of his time indoors. He enjoyed books and drew throughout high school.

He became a professional illustrator after working briefly as a window dresser at a New York toy store and taking classes at the New York Art Students League.

Sendak illustrated his first book The Wonderful Farm in 1951.

He won international acclaim in 1963 with Where the Wild Things Are, about a boy who imagines a world of toothy monsters.

The following year the American Library Association awarded him the prestigious Caldecott Medal for his illustration in the book.

Dozens of other children's books followed including In the Night Kitchen in 1970, which is dedicated to his parents, and Outside Over There in 1981.

He was dubbed by one critic as the Picasso of children's books.

The Queen of Sweden presented him with the Hans Christian Andersen Award for children's book illustration in 1970 and in 1996 US president Bill Clinton awarded Sendak the National Medal of Arts.

Sendak also worked as a costume and stage designer for operas by Ravel, Mozart and others.

Bumble-Ardy, the first book in three decades in which he did both illustrations and text, was released in September.

The author worked on the book while caring for his partner, Eugene Glynn, who died of cancer in 2007.

Sendak died during Tuesday night at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut from complications from a recent stroke, a hospital spokesperson said.