Wild Things writer Maurice Sendak dies at 83

Maurice Sendak, author of the children’s classic Where The Wild Things Are, has died aged 83. Although he was the author or illustrator of over 100 books, it was Wild Things, first published in 1963 that captured the imagination of successive generations of children.

The story is about an unhappy boy called Max who journeys to the land of the Wild Things, where he becomes the king of the unruly creatures (based on caricatures of Sendak's relatives) and enjoys his freedom, until, homesick, he returns to his bedroom. Spike Jonze directed a film version in 2009, with a script by Dave Eggers.

Sendak’s books are rich and strange, a contrast to the bland and comforting messages of most children’s fiction. He was forthright about his approach. "I refuse to lie to children," he told The Guardian in a recent interview. "I refuse to cater to the bulls**t of innocence."

Many of his stories show a keen insight into the rivalries, anxieties and traumas of childhood. His own favourite of his books was Outside Over There, the story of a small girl called Ida who is jealous of her baby sister but has to set out to rescue her after she is kidnapped by goblins.

Sendak enjoyed his image as an eccentric, even cantankerous author, although he did resent not being taken seriously as an artist. "I will never kill myself like Vincent Van Gogh," he said. "Nor will I paint beautiful water lilies like Monet. I can't do that. I'm in the idiot role of being a kiddie book person."

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