Maurice Sendak, author of the beloved book ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ died on Tuesday, May 8, 2012, as a result of complications from a recent stroke. He was 83-years-old.

His most popular book, 'Where the Wild Things Are' was published by Harper & Row in 1963. Although it won the Caldecott Medal in 1964, but the book was often criticized for its grotesque illustrations and Max’s punishment of being sent to bed without supper.

Even today children still love the book because they can relate to the main character. Max is a child with an attitude problem. What kid hasn’t mouthed off to Mom and been sent to bed early? In addition, the fantastical and often terrifying illustrations of the imaginary forest and its creatures captivate children and spark their own vivid imaginations.

Some of Sendak’s other popular works include In the Night Kitchen, The Sign on Rosie’s Door, and Higglety Pigglety Pop! After a thirty-year hiatus, Sendak published Bumble-Ardy in 2011. The book features an orphaned pig who throws himself a wild birthday party. While the book is not necessarily lighthearted and fancy free, it does showcase the enthusiasm and energy of young children, as well as the unflappable bond between parent (or in Bumble-Ardy’s case, an aunt) and child.

My Brother’s Book, a posthumous picture book inspired by Sendak’s love for his brother, Jack, slated to be published next year.

Although Sendak’s works haven’t always been well received, there’s no doubt that he is one of the most important children’s book author of the twentieth century. His books challenged the socially accepted “happily ever after” books of his time and opened children’s eyes up to a world in which everything does not always turn out how we want, a world children need—and often desire—to know about.

In remembrance of Sendark's literature legacy - here are some fun facts about the author you might not know!

  • His childhood nickname meant “wild thing.”
  • His favorite cartoon character was Mickey Mouse. He designed the “Wild Things” dolls with big heads and feet based on the dimensions of Mickey Mouse dolls.
  • The Where the Wild Things Are creatures are based on Sendak’s memories of his relatives.
  • One of Sendak’s favorite correspondences from a child reads: “Dear Mr. Sendak, how much does it cost to get to where the wild things are? If it is not expensive, my sister and I would like to spend the summer there.”

Which book of Sendak's was your favorite?