Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Maurice Sendak Memorial Exhibition: 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Where the Wild Things Are, this touring exhibition made its first stop at The Bowers Museum (through April 28, 2013) in Santa Ana, California.  I had the pleasure of seeing it last week!

To start, there were eight signed watercolor and ink illustrations of scenes from William Shakespeare's "Macbeth" that Sendak made as a 16-year-old in Brooklyn, to avoid flunking English.  

The story goes that Sendak's teacher couldn't get him to speak up in class or write essays, but she'd noticed he was always drawing and told him he could earn a grade with his artwork. The teacher kept the drawings and went on to exchange letters with her former student for decades until her death. Sendak reportedly got an A+ on the assignment, and the artwork was kept by the teacher and later saved by her grandson.

Maurice Sendak (June 10, 1928 - May 8, 2012) was probably best known for his imaginative picture book, Where The Wild Things Are, which won the 1964 Caldecott Medal, but did you know Maurice wrote and/or illustrated over 100 books in his lifetime! (The list is here - which are your favorites?)

Here are a few photos I took in the exhibit hall...

Bronze sculpture of Max and the Sea Monster
from Where The Wild Things Are

Max and a Wild Thing

Commisioned poster

This "work in progress" was a draft for a Hornbook Magazine cover...it was on display with the finished product below.

I was especially interested to see the samples of a set and costume design that Mr. Sendak had drawn (1979) for an opera based on Where The Wild Things Are...
Sendak's set design for the opera

Sendak's costume design for Where The Wild Things Are opera

Maurice said his biggest influence towards becoming a cartoonist  was Mickey Mouse (they were, after all "born" in the same year, and Sendak loved watching Mickey Mouse films as a child)...

Maurice Sendak's self portrait with
Mickey Mouse, circa 1978

Just before leaving the exhibit, I noticed this sweet story, told by Mr. Sendak...
“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, 
“Dear Jim: I loved your card.” 
Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, 
“Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” 
That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”

This is a touring exhibition.  The next stop is at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, followed by libraries and museums in Portland; Maine; Reno; New Britain; and Connecticut.
Click here to see all the books and/or illustrated by Maurice Sendak.


  1. I need to see if the tour will be in CT while we are visiting family in NY. I would love to take our children to this!

  2. Yes, the show will be at the New Britain Museum of American Art, in New Britain, CT from 11/9/13-2/9/14!