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December 10, 1998

Maurice Sendak and Richard Egielski

Maurice Sendak and Richard Egielski are two very talented artists. Maurice Sendak is very well known for his writing and illustration of children’s books. Richard Egielski is also very talented illustrator of children’s books. Both of these men have won many awards and critical acclaim for their work.

Maurice Bernard Sendak was born on June 10, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in a poor Brooklyn neighborhood. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland. Maurice Sendak did not have a very happy childhood. His parents along with his brother, Jack, and sister, Natalie, moved many times from apartment to apartment. They had to move whenever their apartment was painted because his mother could not stand the smell of fresh paint.

Sendak was a very sickly child. He had measles, double pneumonia, and scarlet fever before he was four years old. He spent a lot of time in bed because his parents worried about him going out to play. They were terrified he would get sick and die. “I was a miserable kid,” he confessed to Lanes.

Sendak found happiness and release from his problems through his imagination and reading comic books. He enjoyed Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and other Disney characters. He also loved to go to the movies and he liked classical music. Sendak loved to draw pictures of the neighborhood children. He used to watch them playing from his bedroom window and many of the characters in his books have been based on them.

Maurice Sendak’s most famous book is the 1964 Caldecott winner, Where the Wild Things Are.” This is also my personal favorite children’s book. In this book a little boy, Max, is sent to bed without his supper because he has been very naughty (a wild thing). In the story Max retreats into a make-believe world where a jungle grows in his room, and he sails off with the wild things to have a wonderful adventure. In the book Max becomes the king of all the wild things and they are his obedient servants. The words stop and the illustrations take over about half way through the book. This reader felt like she was with Max on his wonderful adventure. Then towards the end of the story Max gets tired and hungry. He sails back home to be a little boy again and finds his dinner waiting for him, still hot!

According to Barbar, when Maurice Sendak won the Caldecott medal for Where the Wild Things Are it caused a lot of controversy. There were widespread misgivings because people were afraid the book would scare children. Any child will tell you the opposite, they think the wild things are funny, not scary.

Another one of my favorite books of that Maurice Sendak wrote and illustrated is In the Night Kitchen. In this book a little boy wakes up and falls through the dark and out of his clothes and into the night kitchen. There three bakers mix him up into a cake. I also loved this book, which has been very controversial because of the nudity in it.

I have also studied a book Maurice Sendak wrote with Matthew Margolis called Some Swell Pup or Are You Sure You Want a Dog? It is a very amusing and interesting book about a boy and girl who get a puppy and they find out it is not all fun and games. This would be a good book to give a child who just got a puppy. Sendak did the illustrations, which clearly show the messes a puppy can make everywhere. This is a really cute book.

Richard Eglinski was born on July 16, 1952, in New York, New York. His dad was a police lieutenant and his mom was an executive secretary. He used to love to ride the subway in New York as a child. Richard Eglinski also loved cartoons and was very much influenced by them. He also loved cartoons when he was a child. He went to a parochial school until ninth grade when he was accepted into the High School of Art and Design. After he graduated he went to Pratt and later transferred to Parsons. When he went to Parsons he had decided to become a professional illustrator. While Eglinski was at Parsons he took a course on illustrating books from Maurice Sendak whom he claims was his most important teacher ever. He says that Sendak introduced him to picture books and he credit’s him with his decision to illustrate picture books.

Interestingly, Maurice Sendak also suggested Richard Eglinski to Arthur Yorinks who needed an illustrator for his books. Sendak told Yorinks about Eglinski but could not remember Richard’s last name, but he gave him a physical description of him. Yorinks did not think he would ever find him in New York City, but they met on an elevator and the rest is history. They have been writing and illustrating wonderful children’s books ever since.

Richard Egielski and Al Yorinks won the Caldecott medal for the book Hey, Al in 1987. Hey Al is a wonderful book about a man and his dog that were not satisfied with their life so they flew off to a magic island in the sky. It is a great fantasy. They grew wings and finally started to become birds and eventually the dog crashed into the ocean. Finally, it ends happily with the two friends being reunited in their old apartment, which to them now seems like paradise. As it says it the book, “Paradise lost is sometimes Heaven found.” The illustrations in this book are bright, colorful, and captivating. In the third edition of Through the Eyes of a Child it states, “it is interesting to compare Sendak’s illustrations and Richard Egielski’s illustrations for Hey Al. Both illustrators’ sizes as conflict develops, use two-page spreads at the height of interest, and include considerable information about characters and setting within the illustrations.”

Richard Egielski has been informed that in his book It happened in Pinsk that his main character looks like Maurice Sendak. He has said that sometimes the people he knows work themselves into his books. In one of his books Oh, Brother he has been told the balding butler had a striking similarity to his editor at the time.

He stated in the book Talking with Artists that it took a long time to get his start because people said his pictures were “too weird” for children’s books. He uses watercolors on different paper surfaces to make his pictures. He is not afraid to change his technique when he feels the story requires it.

Maurice Sendak and Richard Eglinski are two very talented artists and I have enjoyed reading and studying their books. Their illustrations are very interesting to me. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to discover the joy of children’s literature.



“Sendak, Maurice.” Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults.

1993. ed.

“Sendak, Maurice.” Something About the Arthur., 1992 ed.

“Eglinski, Richard.” Major Arthors and Illustrators for Chidren and Young Adults.

1993 ed.

Cummings, Pat


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