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By Lynne Adkins

DANBURY, Conn. (CBS) — Maurice Sendak, the children’s book author and illustrator who saw the sometimes-dark side of childhood in books like “Where the Wild Things Are” and “In the Night Kitchen,” has died. He was 83.

Sendak has been donating his books and illustrations to the Rosenbach Museum and Library, at 20th Street and Delancey  Place in center city Philadelphia, since the 1960s.  He was on the board of directors there, and museum director Derick Dreher (below) considered him a friend who may have appeared a bit gruff to the public.

“For those people lucky enough to get to know him personally, they would all say he was the  greatest friend anybody could have,” Dreher told KYW Newsradio this morning.  “He was a very kind host, a great conversationalist who wanted to know all about you.  He was just a dear and loving person.”

dreher derick rosenbach  adkins Maurice Sendak, Famed Childrens Author With Philadelphia Connection, Dead at 83

(Rosenbach Museum executive director Derick Dreher. Credit: Lynne Adkins)

Sendak was in town just a few weeks ago, viewing the display of a mural he had done decades ago for a friend’s wall in New York City.  The section of wall had been carefully removed and is now in Philadelphia (see related story).

The museum, the major repository for the illustrations and manuscripts of Sendak, said it would be opening its Maurice Sendak Gallery to the public for free today, to celebrate the life and legacy of the creator of some of the world’s best-loved contemporary children’s books.

Longtime friend and caretaker Lynn Caponera says she was with Sendak when he died early this morning at a hospital in Danbury, Conn.   She says he had a stroke on Friday.

The Rosenbach Museum currently houses over 10,000 Sendak objects, including original drawings, preliminary sketches, manuscript materials, photographs, proofs, and rare prints of Sendak books (see related story).  Selections from the collection are always on view in the Sendak Gallery.

The museum added that it would be open today with special hours: 10am to 5pm.

“Where the Wild Things Are” earned Sendak a prestigious Caldecott Medal for the best children’s book of 1964 and became a hit movie in 2009.

More related stories about Maurice Sendak from CBS Philly

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