Where the Wild Things Are (First Edition) by Maurice Sendak



2015-06-26 10:35:17

Where the Wild Things Are is a children’s book by Maurice Sendak (1928-2012). The first edition of this work was published in 1963 by Harper & Row, New York. Background

Sendak began as an illustrator, but from 1956 decided to start writing to accompany his drawings. He began this story, and used the Yiddish expression ‘Vilde Chaya’ used for boisterous children to come up with the ‘Wild Things’ of his protagonist’s imagination.

The book was at first banned, as places believed the characters were too grotesque and monstrous for children. However, children loved it, and it gradually gained popularity and acclaim. It is considered that Where the Wild Things Are was the first book to portray the psychology of childhood anger and frustration being processed and resolved through a beautiful and imaginative route. By presenting misbehaviour as something not to punish but as part of the necessary experience of childhood, Sendak revolutionised the writing of children’s books.

Plot, Characters, Themes

The story describes a little boy called Max. Max plays around in his house wearing a wolf costume and being mischievous. His mother sends him to bed with no supper as a punishment. In his room he discovers a world of his own imagination, in which he sails to the land of the Wild Things – fearsome looking monsters that Max tames by demonstrating himself to be even fiercer, and he is made their king. But Max becomes lonely and misses home. He returns to his bedroom, and finds the previously denied supper waiting for him, still hot.


Maurice Sendak’s illustrations and imagination are timeless and internationally adored.

See main article: Maurice Sendak rare books and memorabilia

Notable auction sales and collecting tips

First editions of Where the Wild Things Are (1963, Harper & Row, New York) are worth significantly more if they retain their original dust jackets, and even more if inscribed by Sendak, especially as he often accompanied an autograph with a small sketch.

won the Caldecott Award in 1964, many first printings of Where the Wild Things Are were recalled to add a medal sticker to the dust jackets. First editions are worth more if they come from the original printing and do not possess this sticker, as they therefore retain their original dust jackets and are more rare in this state.

First editions were sold by Christie’s for $5,760 in December 2006, $6,120 in April 1997, and $19,975 in April 2001, and by Sothebys for $6,250 in December 2011 and £6,600 in March 2005.

Share on social media
Write a response...

The bookmarklet lets you save things you find to your collections.

Note: Make sure your bookmarks are visible.


Click and drag the Collect It button to your browser's Bookmark Bar.

collect it