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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Which Maurice Sendak Book Are You?

Because when it comes to downright silly blog titles, I am one with the universe.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Maurice Sendak was heard to say that of all his books over the years his favorite, without a doubt, is Outside Over There.  Funny.  I would have pegged him as a Higglety Pigglety Pop! man myself.  Those odd thoughts were enough to get me to thinking about the man’s books.  If ever there was an author whose vast range of themes and styles could inspire a psychological test of the human psyche, tis this dude.

So let’s say that you are given a chance to name the Sendak book that best sums up your own personal world view.  What would you pick?  If you wanted to go entirely with picture books he both wrote and illustrated your choices would  include:

  • Kenny’s Window (1956)
  • Very Far Away (1957)
  • The Sign on Rosie’s Door (1960)
  • The Nutshell Library (1962)
    • Alligators All Around (An Alphabet)
    • Chicken Soup with Rice (A Book of Months)
    • One Was Johnny (A Counting Book)
    • Pierre (A Cautionary Tale)
  • Where the Wild Things Are (1963)
  • Higglety Pigglety Pop!, Or: There Must Be More to Life (1967)
  • In the Night Kitchen (1970)
  • Ten Little Rabbits: A Counting Book with Mino the Magician (1970)
  • Some Swell Pup or Are You Sure You Want a Dog? (1976)
  • Seven Little Monsters (1977)
  • Outside Over There (1981)
  • We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy (1993)
  • Maurice Sendak’s Christmas Mystery (1995)
  • Bumble-Ardy (2011)

If, rather, you wanted a picture book he’d merely illustrated then that list involves:

  • The Wonderful Farm (by Marcel Aymé) (1951)
  • Good Shabbos Everybody (by Robert Garvey) (1951)
  • A Hole is to Dig (written by Ruth Krauss) (1952)
  • A Very Special House (written by Ruth Krauss) (1953)
  • Hurry Home Candy (written by Meindert DeJong) (1953)
  • The Giant Story (written by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers) (1953)
  • The Tin Fiddle (written by Edward Tripp) (1954)
  • The Wheel on the School (written by Meindert DeJong) (1954)
  • Happy Hanukah Everybody (written by Hyman Chanover & Alice Chanover) (1955)
  • Little Cow & the Turtle (written by Meindert DeJong) (1955)
  • Singing Family of the Cumberlands (written by Jean Ritchie) (1955)
  • What Can You Do with a Shoe? (written by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers) (1955)
  • Seven Little Stories on Big Subjects (written by Gladys Baker Bond) (1955)
  • Charlotte and the White Horse (by Ruth Krauss) (1955)
  • I Want to Paint My Bathroom Blue (written by Ruth Krauss) (1956)
  • The Birthday Party (by Ruth Krauss) (1957)
  • Little Bear, written by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak
    • Little Bear (1957)
    • Father Bear Comes Home (1959)
    • Little Bear’s Friend (1960)
    • Little Bear’s Visit (1961)
    • A Kiss for Little Bear (1968)
  • Along Came A Dog (written by Meindert DeJong) (1958)
  • No Fighting, No Biting! (written by Else Holmelund Minarik) (1958)
  • What Do You Say, Dear? (written by Sesyle Joslin) (1958)
  • Seven Tales by H. C. Andersen (translated by Eva Le Gallienne) (1959)
  • The Moon Jumpers (text by Janice May Udry)(1959)
  • Open House For Butterflies (by Ruth Krauss) (1960)
  • What Do You Do, Dear? (written by Sesyle Joslin) (1961)
  • The Big Green Book (written by Robert Graves) (1962)
  • Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present (written by Charlotte Zolotow) (1962)
  • The Singing Hill (written by Meindert DeJong) (1962) (Harper Row)
  • Dwarf Long-Nose (written by Wilhelm Hauff, translated by Doris Orgel) (1963)
  • The Griffin and the Minor Canon (written by Frank R. Stockton) (1963)
  • How Little Lori Visited Times Square (written by Amos Vogel) (1963)
  • She Loves Me…She Loves Me Not… (written by Robert Keeshan) (1963)
  • The Bee-Man of Orn (written by Frank R. Stockton) (1964)
  • The Animal Family (written by Randall Jarrell) (1965)
  • Hector Protector and As I Went Over the Water: Two Nursery Rhymes (1965)
  • Lullabyes and Night Songs (written by Alec Wilder) (1965)
  • Zlateh The Goat (written by Isaac Bashevis Singer) (1966)
  • I’ll Be you and You be Me (written by Ruth Krauss) (1973)
  • King Grisly-Beard (by Brothers Grimm) (1973)
  • Pleasant Fieldmouse (by Jan Wahl) (1975)
  • Fly by Night (by Randall Jarrell) (1976)
  • The Light Princess (by George MacDonald) (1977)
  • Shadrach (by Meindert Dejong) (1977)
  • The Big Green Book (by Robert Graves) (1978)
  • Nutcracker (written by E.T.A. Hoffmann) (1984)
  • The Love For Three Oranges (written by Frank Corsaro  (1984)
  • Circus Girl (by Jack Sendak) (1985)
  • In Grandpa’s House (by Philip Sendak) (1985)
  • The Cunning Little Vixen (by Rudolf Tesnohlidek) (1985)
  • Dear Mili (written by Wilhelm Grimm) (1988)
  • I Saw Esau (edited by Iona Opie and Peter Opie) (1992)
  • The Golden Key (by George MacDonald) (1992)
  • We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy: Two Nursery Rhymes with Pictures (1993)
  • Pierre: or, The Ambiguities: The Kraken Edition (by Herman Melville) (1995)
  • The Miami Giant (written by Arthur Yorinks) (1995)
  • Frank and Joey Go to Work (by Arthur Yorinks) (1996)
  • Penthesilea (written by Heinrich von Kleist) (1998)
  • Swine Lake (written by James Marshall) (1999)
  • Brundibár (written by Tony Kushner) (2003)
  • Sarah’s Room (written by Doris Orgel) (2003)
  • The Happy Rain (written by Jack Sendak) (2004)
  • Bears! (written by Ruth Krauss) (2005)
  • Mommy! (written by Arthur Yorinks) (2006)

Much of this was haphazardly taken from Wikipedia, by the way, so don’t count on it to be entirely accurate or anything.

Looking over this list, one title stands out.  For me, the Sendak book that is closest to my heart and has applications far beyond its tiny story, is the little Nutshell Library title Pierre (not to be confused with the very different Pierre he also illustrated).  It seems to me that in an era of Occupied Wall Streets and events that beg extra attention, “the moral of Pierre is care”.  And care we should.

And yourself?  Is there a MS book you apply to your own life?

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. I’m too busy picking my jaw up off the floor to answer the question. I mean, I knew the man was prolific, and has had a healthy, long career but…

  2. Half a century, and no one has yet written a better picture book than Where the Wild Things Are. But I’m also awfully fond of A Hole Is to Dig and What Do You Say, Dear?/What Do You Do, Dear?

  3. Chicken Soup with Rice. A book for all season-ings. (And lately with all my food allergies, it’s about all I can eat.)

  4. An amazing list … but I had to stop and sigh to think about the Little Bear titles again!

  5. Higglety Pigglety Pop pretty much defined my childhood. That and Pierre – a book that convinced me that, if I just waited long enough, every horrible, nasty little boy on my block would one day be devoured by a lion. I loved that friggin’ book.

  6. @Elizabeth. I am there with you. Wow, what a career to span over 50 years! But I would have to say, Where the Wild Things Are..especially when I am working after school in day care on the playground!

  7. Betsy, you are right: while he said that his best book is Outside Over There, he has also said, somewhere else, that Higglety Pigglety Pop is the one he’s most fond of.

    Little Bear was my own childhood love. As an adult, I think the Nutshell Library as a whole is my favorite.

  8. One Was Johnny. Of course.

  9. What about Let’s Be Enemies? I have two original copies of one of his first books…it was my favorite. Mom had to cover the paperbacks in Contact paper because I wore them out!!

  10. I love Pierre, but I have to say that I’m probably Rosie. Her fashion sense is much better than mine, but our general attitude is the same.

  11. Chicken Soup with Rice and A Hole Is to Dig most accurately reflect my lifeview.

    However, the portions of Where the Wild Things Are where monsters are running amok comes closest to my grade school experience during the years when I attended an open/ experimental school. (Our grade school was, at times, a combination of Where the Wild Things Are and Lord of the Flies.)

  12. I must be Little Bear, because it was published the year I was born. I remember my mother reading me this when I was tiny, and I loved it so much. Sendak was just brilliant.

  13. Ariel Cooke says:

    Kind of torn between Chicken Soup with Rice and Where the Wild Things Are.

  14. Always thought of myself as Rosie but I think I’m actually Rosie’s Mom. Or maybe Lenny.

  15. I am a “Hole Is To Dig” girl. Loved reading it to my children when they were young. Their favorite line was “Mashed potatoes are to give everybody enough.” And I’m going to show my age, but my first intro. to MS was when I was six years old and got “Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm” with his illustrations for Christmas. As with all “first loves,” never quite cottoned to the Hilary Knight illustrations but sure loved the series! Also loved “Hurry Home Candy” and “House of Sixty Fathers.” His illustrations are a beloved part of my childhood!

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I didn’t even include his illustrations for chapter books here. Good of you to point them out!

  16. A tie for me between “In the Night Kitchen” (which I used to sing with my children) and “Where the WIld Things Are” (which is THE iconic 20th century picture book in my humble opinion.)

    I actually dislike “Outside Over There” so guess I won’t be invited to Maurice’s next big party. No wild rumpuses with the great man, sigh.


  17. It’s the Nutshell Library for me. In its teeny, tiny case.
    I’ve used the library copies in story time, but for lap time with my children and grandchildren, the teeny tiny ones are best.

  18. Very Far Away

    It’s my favourite book written & illustrated by MS. Love all the characters and understand the desire for some “me” space.


  1. […] Elizabeth from Fuse #8 asks: So let’s say that you are given a chance to name the Sendak book that best sums up your own personal world view. What would you pick? […]

  2. […] Elizabeth from Fuse #8 asks: So let’s say that you are given a chance to name the Sendak book that best sums up your own personal world view. What would you pick? […]