(JTA) – Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of the popular children’s book "Where the Wild Things Are," has died.
Sendak, who wrote and illustrated more than 50 children’s books, died Tuesday at the age of 83. He reportedly had suffered a stroke on May 4.
The son of immigrant Polish Jews, Sendak told The Associated Press that he spent his childhood in Brooklyn thinking about the children who died in the Holocaust in Europe.
"My burden is living for those who didn’t," he told the AP.
"Where the Wild Things Are" tells the story of a young boy, Max, who is sent to his room as punishment and imagines a make-believe land with a wild forest and creatures. The book has sold nearly 20 million copies worldwide and been made into a feature film.
Sendak, who did not attend college, became a window dresser for Manhattan toy store FAO Schwarz in 1948. A self-taught illustrator, he was commissioned to illustrate the book "Wonderful Farm" by Marcel Ayme in 1951, and in 1957 he began writing his own books.
In 1964, the American Library Association awarded Sendak the Caldecott Medal for “Where the Wild Things Are." He received the international Hans Christian Andersen medal for illustration in 1970, and in 1983 he won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association. President Bill Clinton awarded Sendak a National Medal of the Arts in 1996 for his body of work.
[FROM THE ARCHIVE: Ron Kampeas' essay on the Jewish psyche behind "Where The Wild Things Are."]