Remembering Maurice Sendak

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The celebrated author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who would have turned 86 today, spoke with Bill about some of the surprisingly dark influences behind his work in this 2004 interview. Sendak has been called the Picasso of children’s literature, and godfather to generations of readers. His landmark book, Where the Wild Things Are, which he wrote and illustrated, catapulted him to international fame.

Sendak, who died in 2012, tells Bill that he was shaped by immigrant parents and the tragedy of the Holocaust. He reveals insight into his complicated psyche and a rare window into the soul of an acclaimed artist. He also discusses how he shaped the character of Max, the mischievous lead in his blockbuster book, and what he might have been like as an adult.

“People often say, ‘What happens to Max?’ It’s such a coy question that I always say, ‘Well, he’s in therapy forever. He has to wear a straitjacket when he’s with his therapist,’” Sendak told Moyers.

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  • Edwin Pagán

    R.I.P. Maurice Sendak. (June 10, 1928 – May 8, 2012).
    The author of my favorite book as a child – and adult, has passed away. The book was published the year I was born: 1963. It’s the vehicle that sparked my creativity and allowed me to imagine and visit places outside the confines of the burning South Bronx of my youth.

  • St. Croix Grandma

    I loved reading this book to my children because even as an adult I loved the pictures.  I’m looking forward to reading it again very soon to my new granddaughter.

  • Suzanne

    With much gratitude for the work/love made visible… Your interviews are brilliant, they leave me with open hearts to mysteries of life/ death and the part we play in this existence.  Blessings to you and yours….With much appreciation,   

  • Thomas Murphy

    A great man: “A child has courage because he has innocence.”

  • Vbaljo

    Smooth journey to paradise Maurice and thank you!

  • Danoma69

    Have a wonderful adventure, discovering new, wild things, Maurice.

  • Stromsdorfersj

    Now I know I am getting older.

  • Adam G Thomson III

    An excellent interview I would recommend if you are ever asking yourself what really matters in life as we age.  Thank you Maurice for having shared these insights near the end of your journey in life.

  • Adam G Thomson III

    Carry on Grasshopper…

  • Randiganulin

    Thank you, Mr. Sendak– we will miss you.

  • Kenegbert3rd

    When my little folks (now all larger than myself) were actually little, I was in the middle of getting divorced from their mother and things were not terribly cheery for some while.  Maurice Sendak’s books, starting  with the Little Bear series and moving well on from there, were in my kids’ library.  I read them a numbing number of times to them.  Their relevance to our situation – only here in my house a while, then back to Mom’s – was somewhat greater than we’d have preferred, but that was why we kept going back to them.  Things (wild and otherwise) are precipitous.  Things are difficult.  Things are also surmountable, however, when called for.  Or they can be lived with.  We all turned out fine, even me, and we partially have Mr. Sendak’s legendary anti-BS meter to thank for it.  I miss reading to my little guys, but that’s OK.  I miss Mr. Sendak a lot more.  Nice job as always, Mr. Moyers.