Maurice Bernard Sendak (born June 10, 1928) is an American writer and illustrator of children's literature. He is best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are, published in 1963.
Sendak was born in Brooklyn, New York to Polish Jewish immigrant parents Sarah (née Schindler) and Philip Sendak, a dressmaker. He decided to become an illustrator after viewing Walt Disney's film Fantasia at the age of twelve; however, his love of books came at an early age when he developed health problems and was confined to his bed. One of his first professional commissions was to create window displays for the toy store F.A.O. Schwarz. His illustrations were first published in 1947 in a textbook titled Atomics for the Millions by Dr. Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff. He spent much of the 1950s working as an artist for children's books, before beginning to write his own stories.
Sendak gained international acclaim after writing and illustrating Where the Wild Things Are, although the book's depictions of fanged monsters concerned some parents when it was first released, as his characters were somewhat grotesque in appearance. Sendak's seeming attraction to the forbidden or nightmarish aspects of children's fantasy have made him a subject of controversy. The monsters in the book were actually based on relatives who would come to weekly dinners. Because of their broken English and odd mannerisms, they were the perfect basis for the monsters in Sendak's book. Before Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak was best known for illustrating Else Holmelund Minarik's Little Bear series of books.