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Author and Illustrator Maurice Sendak Dies at 83

Maurice Sendak, Caldecott-winning author of classic children’s books such as Where the Wild Things Are, died this morning due to complications from a stroke. He was 83. His most recent book was Bumble-Ardy (HarperCollins), the tale of a mischievous pig named Bumble who has reached the age of nine without ever having had a birthday party. He takes matters into his own hands (well, cloven hooves) and invites all of his friends to a masquerade bash that quickly gets out of hand. In discussing his widely beloved work, Brooklyn-born Sendak was always quick to credit his mentors, the late Ruth Krauss (The Carrot Seed) and her husband Crockett “Dave” Johnson, who wrote Harold and the Purple Crayon. The most valuable lesson they imparted to the budding children’s book author, whose big-headed kids were initially rejected by publishers for being “too foreign-looking”? Be truthful. “If there’s anything I’m proud of in my work—it’s not that I draw better; there’s so many better graphic artists than me—or that I write better, no. It’s—and I’m not saying I know the truth, because what the hell is that? But what I got from Ruth and Dave, a kind of fierce honesty,” Sendak said in a 2005 interview, “to not let the kid down, to not let the kid get punished, to not suffer the child to be dealt with in a boring, simpering, crushing-of-the-spirit kind of way.”

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