Revolutionised the picture-book narrative

American author and illustrator, born in Brooklyn, New York on 10 June 1928, in a poor emigrant family from Poland. Many of Sendak's relatives died in the Holocaust during World War II, which made a profound impression on his work, especially in the pictorial language of, e.g. We Are All in the Dumps With Jack and Guy, 1993 and in Dear Mili, 1988, with the text written by Wilhelm Grimm.

Maurice Sendak's major breakthrough was Where the Wild Things Are, 1963, where he all at once revolutionised the entire picture book narrative. Referred to as the picture book of picture books, no study of modern children's literature has been able to ignore it. Having been translated into a great number of languages, many generations of children throughout the entire world have read the book. No picture book creator today can entirely escape Sendak's influence.

The dangerous journey young Max accomplishes to his inner aggressive demons in Where the Wild Things Are, is masterfully portrayed in a laconic text with pictures whose visual content, as well as their shifting sizes and formats, contribute to the narrative. The visual expression of a child's inner landscape, which one already meets in this book, became Sendak's hallmark even in In the Night Kitchen, 1970 and Outside Over There, 1981.

Sendak changed, unlike any other contemporary picture-book artist, the entire landscape of the modern picture book - thematically, aesthetically and psychologically. Primarily it is in the dozen or so books that Sendak both wrote and illustrated, where he penetrated the most secret recesses of childhood. He compared childhood to "a range of humiliation" which he happened to remember better than most other people do.

There is a picture of a moon watching over the children in nearly all Sendak's books. It is said to represent his overprotective mother. When he used to play outside as a young boy, his mother would peep through the window to be sure that he was safe. Such recurring pictures and symbols make Sendak's authorship unique and exciting. He said: "If I have an unusual talent, it's not that I draw particularly better, or write particularly better, than other people. I've never fooled myself about that. Rather, it's that I remember things that other people don't recall: the sounds and feelings and images - the emotional quality of particular moments in childhood."

As an illustrator of other people's texts, Sendak demonstrated in a wonderful way how pictures can emphasize new meanings of a text. His illustrations of the brother Grimms' stories capture an entire plot in one picture and add a special atmosphere as well. His illustrations of William Blake's poetry, or of children's books by George MacDonald, Randall Jarrell and Meindert DeJong have become classics in their own right. Furthermore, Sendak's sets for operas gave him the status of an artist of the highest order.

Sendak has been portrayed as a dramatist with his own small theatre, where short and headstrong stories of the most varied type are performed to music of Mozart. His choice of sets and actors for his pictures was stringent and he shaped them in a technique that was gently based on a tradition from Cruikshank, Tenniel, Caldecott, Busch and Nicholson. The basic set often had the character of a tapestry, behind which one heard brittle creaks from the stage machinery. His books, which have become classics, have withstood the wear that all eyes exert on his pictures.

Sendak received a spate of awards, including two Caldecott Medals (1964 and 1974) and the Hans Christian Andersen Medal from IBBY (1970). He passed away on May 8, 2012, at an age of 83 years.