The son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, Maurice Sendak was a sickly child who spent a lot of time indoors observing life through an apartment window. Drawing became his escape; he was influenced by his favorite comic books, especially the Disney ones featuring Mickey Mouse. His career as an illustrator began in high school when he drew backgrounds for the comic strips "Mutt and Jeff", "Tippy", and "Captain Stubbs". He also illustrated a physics book, ATOMICS FOR THE MILLIONS, for one of his teachers. After high school Sendak worked as a window designer for the toy store F.A.O. Schwarz and attended the Arts Students League. He began illustrating books for children when he was introduced to Harper and Brothers editor Ursula Nordstrom. In 1960 he wrote and illustrated THE SIGN ON ROSIE'S DOOR, which was based, in part, on scenes and characters from his childhood in Brooklyn. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE was published to critical and popular acclaim in 1963 and received the Caldecott Medal the following year. The book deals with the imaginary voyage of a young boy named Max to a land of monsters that he conquers and rules over until he decides to return home. Many consider this the first part of a trilogy also consisting of IN THE NIGHT KITCHEN (1970) and OUTSIDE OVER THERE (1981), in which the characters travel to a fantasy world to reaffirm their place in reality. Sendak considers OUTSIDE OVER THERE, inspired by his memories of his relationship with his older sister, Natalie, his most personal work. In the 1970s and 1980s, Sendak became involved with designing sets and costumes for such operas as "The Magic Flute", "The Cunning Little Vixen", and "The Love of Three Oranges". He also wrote the lyrics and designed operas of two of his own works--WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE and HIGGLETY, PIGGLETY, POP! He and writer Arthur Yorinks established The Night Kitchen--a national theater for children in 1990. He was the 1983 recipient of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in recognition for his many contributions to children's literature. In the 21st-century, he ventured into the world of pop-up books with the well-received MOMMY? featuring a boy who looks remarkably like Max.
Else Holmelund Minarik's family moved to the United States from Denmark when she was four. After having trouble learning English, she eventually studied education and psychology and later became a first grade teacher. It was through her experiences as a mother and a teacher that Minarik began writing easy-reader books. Her first book, 1957's LITTLE BEAR, began the successful "I Can Read" series for Harper and Row. Many of her books, including those in the "Little Bear" series, were illustrated by Maurice Sendak.