The art of Maurice Sendak celebrated in Dover

Over 50 years ago Maurice Sendak’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” changed children’s literature and through a new exhibit you can learn more about the book and Sendak’s other work.

Maurice Sendak grew up in Brooklyn, New York and at a very early age exhibited an interest in illustration. “As a matter of fact he was born the same year as Mickey Mouse’s invention,” Ryan Grover of the Biggs Museum of American Art said.

Scholars have credited Sendak’s viewing of the Disney classic Fantasia as sparking his interest in illustration. During his long career Sendak illustrated and/or authored more than 100 books.

Sendak was profoundly influenced by several tragedies in his life and that perhaps led to the belief that it was okay for children to be afraid. “It really changed children’s literature,” Catherine Wimberley of the Dover Public Library said.

The influence of Sendak’s many works reach across generations. Not only in the 60’s when “Where the Wild Things Are” was published, but also the 70’s and 80’s. Sendak partnered with Carole King to produce a musical based on his work called “Really Rosie,” and in 2009 director Spike Jonze brought the wild things to life on the big screen in a live action adaptation, which was partially produced by Sendak himself.

“So now your talking about three almost four generations that have been loving [Sendak] and just sort of admiring him and passing him down generation after generation,” Grover said.

“Maurice Sendak’s works really changed the whole genre of children’s literature,” Wimberley said. So it makes perfect sense to share the exhibit with the library. The exhibit includes pieces of original artwork by Sendak and many of the books he produced. There’s even a large model of Max’s boat from “Where the Wild Things Are” that kids can climb into and help to tell the story. “It really is another way for us to teach the public about Maurice Sendak.”

“I really want people to sort of be grabbed by those really iconic monster figures, Max in his crown and his pajamas,” Grover said. The museum also hopes to turn the pages on the Sendak story for you. To introduce you to his other works and how they have influenced so many people. “In terms of American literary figures he’s a major figure of the 20th now 21st century.”

The exhibit organizers hope visitors learn more about Sendak’s other books and introduce them to the next generation. “Its been wonderful to see people learning new things about someone who has been so important in their everyday life,” Wimberley said.

The exhibit runs through September 11th at both the Biggs Museum and the Dover Public Library, you can find out more information when you visit

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal