Maurice Sendak is most well known for his book Where the Wild Things Are. The author and illustrator was born 95 years ago (he sadly passed away in 2012 at the age of 84), and he is credited with numerous works. In some works, he wrote and illustrated, and in many, he was only an illustrator. For a full list of his works, click here.
His books are full of imagination and lessons for people, including adults. While others classified him as a children’s author and illustrator, he did not believe this himself. In his last known interview, he said, “I don’t write for children. I write—and somebody says, ‘That’s for children!'” His books are appropriate for children, but adults can, and perhaps should, read them as well.
Here is a list of six of Sendak’s books you should read besides Where the Wild Things Are.
Kenny’s Window, published on January 21, 1956, is Sendak’s first book. It is 64 pages long. Kenny is a little boy who dreams of a beautiful garden and wants to live there. On his journey to find the garden, he learns about himself and life, learning many lessons along the way. He learns about kindness, love, loneliness, loss, and more, and all of these lessons are presented in a way that is easy for readers to understand. These lessons are important for people of every age, and the imagination and charming illustrations make this an easy read.
The Sign on Rosie’s Door was originally published on June 1, 1960. It only has four chapters and 48 pages, so it is a quick and easy read. The story is about a girl named Rosie and her friends Kathy, Dolly, Paul, and Sal, who play imaginative games. This book specifically mirrors the chaotic way that real children play, coupled with illustrations of the children playing their various games. This a fun book for children or those in touch with their inner child.
This book also inspired a Broadway musical called Really, Rosie, which was also written by Sendak.
Nutshell Library, published on October 10, 1962, is a collection of four books. The books are Alligators All Around, Chicken Soup with Rice, One Was Johnny, and Pierre. Each book has its own adventure and lessons, such as learning the alphabet and counting. The collection is 288 pages, which is a little long. However, since it is split into four books, it is not as demanding as it seems and is fun for people of all ages. Children can learn the lessons and, along with adults, enjoy a simple book with cute illustrations.
We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy, published on September 30, 1993, is Sendak’s most controversial book. This is a fusion of two Mother Goose rhymes, “In the Dumps” and “Jack and Gaye” reimagined in Sendak’s style. It is one of his darker books, and it has illustrations that may be terrifying to young children. It is about poverty, homelessness, and similar issues. This is not a happy, feel-good story but one with heavy themes that both children and adults can learn from and about.
Some Swell Pup, or Are You Sure You Want a Dog? was published on October 1, 1976. It’s a story about two young children who get a dog and love it. But they struggle and get angry when the dog behaves, well, like a dog, like pooping on the floor. The children do learn how to care for the dog and deal with its behavior. It’s perfect for parents of young children who are begging for a dog and promising to take care of it, or even for a dog lover.
My Brother’s Book, published on February 5, 2013, was Sendak’s last book. It was published posthumously about nine months after his death. This book, which is only 12 pages long, pays homage to his older brother Jack Sendak, a children’s author, who passed away in 1995.
This book is not a children’s book and isn’t recommended for young readers. It is a poem about two brothers, and in it, Sendak expresses his grief over losing his brother as well as his love for him. This is one of his sadder books, but it is still a beautiful and worthy read.
Maurice Sendak was a prolific author, and his books influenced and entertained millions. His works were timeless and are still relevant even now, decades after he first started writing. He is no longer with us, but his lessons and legacy will remain with us for a long time.
For more on Maurice Sendak, click here.