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Meet Maurice Sendak


Arts & Humanities
--Art History
--Language Arts
--Dance, Music
--Visual Arts


Grades 2-up

News Content

The movie is wildly" popular, but what do you really know about Where the Wild Things Are and its author?

Anticipation Guide

Are your students familiar with the story Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak? If not, you might read the book to them, share with them the video version of the story that appears below, or both.

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: decorate, relatives, animated, influence, mischief, frail, quirks, imagination, and reduce. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • Sauls father had been a big _____ on his decision to run for political office. (influence)
  • The puppy had many little _____ that made Charlie love him even more. (quirks)
  • In order to be a cartoonist, one must have a very vivid _____. (imagination)
  • Mother could tell by the looks on our faces that we were up to some kind of _____. (mischief)
  • In October, we plan to _____ the bulletin board with fall leaves. (decorate)
  • As the years passed, Pats grandmother appeared weaker and more _____. (frail)
  • The Little Mermaid is my favorite _____ movie. (animated)
  • Stephanie used the shears to _____ the height of the shrub by about two feet. (reduce)
  • On her wedding day, the church was packed with friends and _____. (relatives)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Meet Maurice Sendak.

    Reading the News

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

    Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

    Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • Maurice Sendaks parents were Polish-Jewish immigrants. His father worked as a dressmaker. He had a brother, Jack, and a sister, Natalie.
  • After graduating from high school, Sendak worked during the day as a window dresser at the F.A.O. Schwartz toy store so he could attend night classes at the New York Art Students League.
  • Among the first books that Sendak illustrated were The Wonderful Farm and A Hole is to Dig. Many more illustration jobs followed. Sendak once said that he sees illustrating as an opportunity to expand the imaginary world of the reader.
  • Before Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak was best known for illustrating Else Holmelund Minarik's Little Bear series of books.
  • Other popular Sendak titles include The Sign on Rosies Door (1960); The Nutshell Library (1962); Higglety Pigglety Pop! (1967); and In the Night Kitchen (1970).
  • When it came to transforming Where the Wild Things Are for the big screen, Sendak advised filmmaker Spike Jonze to make more mischief." He said, In plain terms, a child is a complicated creature who can drive you crazy. There's a cruelty to childhood, there's an anger. And I did not want to reduce Max to the trite image of the good little boy that you find in too many books."
  • Sendak says he has two new books in the works. One is purely text, a tribute to his brother Jack. The other is illustrated and about a boy who unfortunately for him happened to look like and be a pig."

    Use the News

    Print out for students this weeks Use the News printable activity page. Or use the questions on that page to check student comprehension.

    Use the News: Answer Key
    Comprehension & Vocabulary Check
    1. frail, 2. relatives, 3. animated, 4. influence, 5. imagination, 6. published, 7. mischief, 8. illustrations, 9. decorate, 10. reduce.
    Sequencing Events
    Statements should be numbered 6, 2, 3, 7, 1, 5, 8, 4.

    Think About the News Where the Wild Things Are caused quite a stir in its day. The scary characters, as well as the fact that Max misbehaves and his mother loses her temper, kept the book off the shelves of many libraries for a time. Of Max, the main character in the book, Sendak says, he wouldn't be invited to Winnie the Pooh's house -- and if he had been, he wouldn't have gone." Why, do you think, did Maurice Sendak say this of Max, his Wild Things hero? (Accept students reasoned responses. For example, students might share that Max and Winnie the Pooh are two very different types of characters/personalities; that Sendak paints more realistic portraits of children than A.A. Milne did in his fairy tales; that Milnes characters were more sweet and Sendaks characters more quirky)


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question above.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
    GRADES K - 4
    NA-VA.K-4.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures
    NA-VA.K-4.5 Reflecting Upon and Assessing the Characteristics and Merits of Their Work and the Work of Others
    NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NA-VA.5-8.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures
    NA-VA.5-8.5 Reflecting Upon and Assessing the Characteristics and Merits of Their Work and the Work of Others
    NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NA-VA.9-12.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures
    NA-VA.9-12.5 Reflecting Upon and Assessing the Characteristics and Merits of Their Work and the Work of Others
    NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.
    Article by Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
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