Maurice Sendak exhibit opens in Phoenix

Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak, exhibit, Phoenix, Burton Barr library, Arizona, traveling exhibit
Artwork from Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Maurice Sendak, the iconic American picture book author and illustrator, received many tributes and accolades before and after his death in 2012. The most telling, I think, was the one from actor Tom Hanks.

“Maurice Sendak helped raise my children,” Hanks said.

It does take a village to raise a child, and parents often forget just how far those villages extend in time and space. Great books and great writers are villagers, too. Sendak’s brilliant artwork and storytelling now are delighting a fourth generation.

A new exhibit celebrates the work of this iconic children’s book author. Phoenix Public Library will host “Maurice Sendak: The Memorial Exhibition” June 3-July 17.

The traveling exhibit was assembled by Sendak’s estate and began touring in 2013 as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Caldecott Medal-winning “Where the Wild Things Are.” Demand was so great that the show continues to tour the country, with locations booked through 2019.

“Wild Things” artwork and more

More than 1,000 square feet of Burton Barr Central Library’s second floor will become the temporary home for 50 pieces of Sendak’s original art. The items are drawn from his entire career and from every stage of his creative process, from preliminary sketch to publication. They include many “Wild Things” lithographs, as well as the famous 1976 Rolling Stone cover and a stunning bronze sculpture of Max battling a sea monster.

Visitors will receive a “passport” full of information about Sendak, each piece in the show and hands-on activities for kids, enabling them to enjoy a self-guided tour at their own pace.

The exhibit will kick off with a public reception, complete with live music, food and fun, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 3. It then will be open on the same schedule as the library.

Additional Sendak and “Wild Things” themed activities for children—including pajama movie parties, special story times, costume parties and mask-making—and such adult events as community storytelling sessions and art classes, will be held at Burton Barr Central Library and many branch libraries during the exhibit. Books and related merchandise will be available for purchase at the Central Library’s bookstore.

This is a great opportunity for children, former children and wild things of all stripes to share their love of Maurice Sendak’s inspired art and stories.

IF YOU GO: Friday, June 3, through Sunday, July 17. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 1-5 p.m. Sundays. Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. Free. or

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