Maurice Sendak, the renowned illustrator and writer of children’s books, died Tuesday at the age of 83 in Danbury, CT, prompting The New York Times to eulogize how he “wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche.”
Regarded as “the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century,” as the Times put it, Sendak was the creator of numerous works, no less than 26 of which are at the according to Vivian Khan, the children’s librarian there.
You’d think Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak’s groundbreaking 1963 work, would be the most-borrowed of all the titles at the library. But according to the library’s records, says Khan, the largest-circulation book by Sendak is his 1962 book, Pierre: A Cautionary Tale. The library has three copies of the book, which have been loaned out a total of 171 times.
In contrast, the library has six copies of Where the Wild Things Are, which has a total circulation number of 108.
One reason for the puzzling comparative figures might be that several copies of Where the Wild Things Are have been taken out of circulation because they were too worn out, says Khan.
In the two years that she has been at the library, at least three copies have been canned—along with their circulation statistics, Khan explained.
But why would Pierre: A Cautionary Tale be so popular to begin with?
“It’s a smaller book, almost pocket-size, and kids like them a lot,” says Khan. “It’s also one of the first books he has written, so that may be another reason.”
To commemorate Sendak’s passing, we thought we’d ask readers which is their favorite title by the author—and which is their children’s favorite?
Share your titles—and Sendak stories—in the Comments box below.