May 27, 2009

Author SPLOTlight: Maurice Sendak

Posted by at 7:28 am in Authors | Permalink

Wherethewildthingsare_130 A couple days ago I happened across the trailer for the new Where the Wild Things Are movie. Now, I should mention before we get into this that I'm a pretty big WTWTA fan: I read the book (or was read the book, I guess) way back when I was, like, 1 year old; I've got a T-shirt; I bought my mom a French translation (Max et les Maximonstres) for her birthday one year; etc. So it's safe to say that my hopes for the movie are pretty high. And if you've read WTWTA, or another of Maurice Sendak's famous works, In the Night Kitchen, you know why. Like Chris Van Allsburg, an author I blogged about recently, Mr. Sendak excels at drawing the insides of our minds.

So, a little background on this wizard of a storyteller. He was born in Brooklyn in 1928, and decided he wanted to become an illustrator when he saw Disney's Fantasia at age 12.

His first illustrations were published in the very creepily-named 1947 textbook: Atomics for the Millions:


And WTWTA was published in 1963, winning Mr. Sendak the Caldecott and instantly catapulting him to fame as an author.

Some other trivia about Mr. Sendak's fascinating life and work:

  • His 1970 book, the aforementioned In the Night Kitchen, has been banned in four states (including my home state of Illinois, to my dismay).
  • He was an early member of the group that eventually produced Sesame Street.
  • Where the Wild Things Are is only 10 sentences long.
  • He has designed stage sets for famous productions of several plays, ballets, and operas, including The Nutcracker, Hansel and Gretel, and The Magic Flute.
  • Brundibar, his collaboration with famous playwright Tony Kushner, was one of the New York Times' 10 Best Illustrated Books of 2003, proving that his artistic genius has endured over the years.
  • In 2006, his first pop-up book, Mommy?, was released.

One cool thing I was found out was that WTWTA almost became one of the first-ever computer animated movies. John Lasseter, who would go on to direct a bunch of great Pixar movies (Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Cars), experimented with using a hybrid of traditional animation and CG to tell the book's story in 1983.

That never happened. Now, 26 years later, it's my pleasure to present the very awesome, a little bit dark and scary (but then, so was the book), surprisingly grown-up-looking, long long long-awaited trailer for "Where the Wild Things Are." Let the wild rumpus start!

What was your favorite Wild Thing? And are you looking forward to the movie as much as I am? Let me know in the comments!

— Jack, STACKS Staffer

  1. Msw207

    This movie is going to be awesome! I loved the book and can’t wait to see how the animation comes to life.

  2. imbozimo

    I loved this book when I was little… my parents would read it to me and my older brother every night for weeks on end! I can’t wait for the movie!
    BTW… the trailer has been out for at least a month now.

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