Opened book with a wonderful world inside.
Blog 02.10.2020

The Illustrious Illustrations and Books of Maurice Sendak

(Where the Wild Things Are)

Maurice Sendak’s Most Beloved Children’s Books

  • Where the Wild Things Are (1963) is one of former President Barack Obama’s favorite children’s books and was read by him and former first lady Michelle at the White House in 2016.

This book is very special for many reasons: not only is it an autobiographical account of the author’s childhood imagination, but it truly takes the reader into a whole other world of wild beasts where the protagonist becomes their leader. In the end, he decides to return home to find a delicious hot meal waiting for him.

  • Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months (1962) is a book of poetic rhyming verses that details each month of the year. The theme that ties all the months together is, of course, chicken soup. The book is not only experimental but wonderfully witty and educational as well. It gives children an idea of the scope of a year and linear storytelling.
  • Maurice Sendak’s Christmas Mystery (1995) is not just a book but a set of puzzle pieces along with clues to solve a riddle. This is especially wonderful for the holiday season and makes a unique and educational Christmas present.


  • Alligators All Around: An Alphabet (1962) is a book that explores the adventures of an alligator family while making its way through the alphabet. This is perfect for reading to children who are learning their letters and a wonderful introduction to literacy.

(Alligators All Around)

The Illustrations

Maurice Sendak was actually an illustrator before he began writing his own books. Known for his unique imagination and razor-sharp wit, Sendak will always be remembered for the strange and whimsical worlds he created with beautiful drawings. Sendak was quoted as saying that “You must never illustrate exactly what is written. You must find a space in the text so that the pictures can do the work.” This says a lot about his creative process and adds to the importance of the illustrations; they are just as important as the words written on the page. He also said that “There’s so much more to a book than just the reading.”

(Chicken Soup with Rice)


Sendak’s legacy is now one of legend; he will go down in history as one of the great children’s books authors. There was an impressive exhibition earlier this year featuring his work at the Morgan Library and Museum. The exhibit featured mostly his work for the opera and ballet complete with dioramas, storyboards, and illustrations galore.

To understand Sendak’s legacy, look no further than his work along with some inspirational quotations (such as this one):

“Knowledge is the driving force that puts creative passion to work.”

For more quotations along with further information on the topics discussed in this blog, consult the websites below:

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