Maurice Sendak Additional Biography


(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

0111206436-Sendak.jpg Maurice Sendak (National Archives) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Pointing out that fear and anxiety are “intrinsic” to children’s daily lives, Sendak defended his widely debated—and wildly popular—picture book Where the Wild Things Are (1963) with the claim, “It is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis.” Suggesting that children have aggressive impulses toward adults, this award-winning book was considered by one librarian as too disturbing “to be left where a sensitive child may come upon it at twilight.”

While the psychoanalytic undercurrents of Where the Wild Things Are caused alarm, the nudity of In the Night Kitchen (1970) provoked open calls for censorship. Parents in Morrisonville, New York; Jacksonville, Florida; and Cornish, Maine, for example, demanded it be removed from school libraries, protesting that the nakedness of the book’s young protagonist would promote child molestation. In the Night Kitchen was reinstated in each case; however, the book did end up being placed on a closed shelf in Indiana and removed from a library in Washington. Sendak responded that his pictures “aren’t any more graphic” than “paintings of the Christ child.”

Nudity—this time of goblins—caused Outside over There (1981) to be pulled from the shelves by a South Dakota school librarian. Noted Sendak, “The people who are frightened by my images and stories are adults, not children.”


(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

Bader, Barbara. “Maurice Sendak.” In American Picture Books from Noah’s Ark to the Beast Within. New York: Macmillan, 1976. This essay contains an in-depth discussion of the eclecticism of Sendak’s style that documents the evolution of his art.

DeLuca, Geraldine. “Progression through Contraries: The Triumph of the Spirit in the Work of Maurice Sendak.” In Triumphs of the Spirit in Children’s Literature, edited by Francelia Butler and Richard Rotert. Hamden, Conn.: Library Professional Publications, 1986. DeLuca traces and discusses Sendak’s ambivalent vision of childhood throughout his works.

Hentoff, Nat. “Among the Wild Things.” The New Yorker (January 22, 1966): 39-73. Hentoff discusses the critical and public response to Sendak’s work and traces the influences on his art from his early beginnings through his mature style.

Kloss, Robert. “Fantasy and Fear in the Work of Maurice Sendak.” Psychoanalytic Review 76 (Winter, 1989): 567-579. In this essay, Kloss examines Sendak’s transformation of the psychoanalytic vision of experience into fiction and art.

Lanes, Selma. The Art of Maurice Sendak. New York: Abrams, 1980. This extensive, well-illustrated biography examining Sendak’s life and work contains many direct quotes taken from interviews with Sendak, discussions of his major works, and a chronology.

Sonheim, Amy. Maurice Sendak. New York: Twayne, 1991. Sonheim analyzes Sendak’s work from several eclectic approaches: biographical, linguistic, art historical, and generic. The author attempts to discover the intricacies of Sendak’s verbal and visual styles, but the book contains no reproductions of his visual works. It does, however, contain a lengthy bibliography of both primary and secondary sources.