"It seems entirely fitting that Maurice Sendak was born on the same day that Mickey Mouse first made his cartoon debut--June 10, 1928. Sendak was crazy about cartoons and comic books, and at twelve, after seeing Disney's Fantasia, he decided that he was going to become an illustrator. His love of childrens books began early: often sick and confined to bed, little Maurice read and read and read. Though many of his own stories were light and funny, the most important ones--Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There--dealt with anger, jealousy, abandonment, content that had never before been the subject of picture books. As well as covering career highlights, this easy to read, illustrated biography also describes the personal life of this genius. Who Was Maurice Sendak is perfect for kids wild about one of the most influential children's book artists of the twentieth century!"-- "Maurice Sendak, born June 10, 1928, was a writer and illustrator of children's books. This easy-to-read, illustrated biography describes the career and personal life of this genius"--
So this book definitely was a learning moment for me. In addition to not having much biographical background on Sendak, I had only ever read his Where the Wild Things Are and none of his other works. As much of this book talks about the different titles he wrote and/or illustrated (including how parts of his life influenced those works), I was inspired to track down and read several more of his books. Knowing the stories behind his books was incredibly fascinating. For instance, Sendak's beloved and famous work originally grew out of him liking the title Where the Wild Horses Are, but he realized his skill at drawing horses was not quite what he wanted it to be.
This book is straightforward and factual about Sendak's life, noting how and why some of his books were controversial. It also doesn't shy away from mentioning that Sendak was homosexual, which I'm glad to see wasn't passed over to appease a small but vocal contingency that still objects to even acknowledging such relationships exist (especially letting children know this). The book makes liberal use of quotes from Sendak derived from his various interviews over the years, my favorite quotation being, "The best illustrated books ... are the books where the text does one thing and the pictures say something just a little off-center of the language, so they're both doing something ... The most boring books are where the pictures are restating the text."
Backmatter includes a timeline and bibliography.