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The night Maurice Sendak lay under an animal-fur blanket at the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia, looking at Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s drawings for a French novel, he thought, Hey, this is living, and then museum director Clive Driver said, “We’ll take your stuff too!” And so Sendak gave his art and papers to the Rosenbach so that people could have a place to go to see the things he had made.

Afew years later, inside the Rosenbach, an exhibit grew and grew -- and grew until the museum was hung with more than 130 pieces of “Sendakiana,” and the walls became Sendak’s world all around. And the doors opened so that fans could sail into that world day after day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to see where the wild things came from.

So the wild rumpus, known as “There’s a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak,” began to show original artwork and rare sketches made between 1947 and 2006 for books like A Hole Is to Dig and The Light Princess and Outside Over There and, of course, Where the Wild Things Are. And when the wild rumpus stops, the king of all wild things in Philadelphia will wave goodbye and travel to three other American venues over the next several years.

So put on your wolf suits, head to the museum, and for a day feel like you’re king of where the wild things are. From May 6, 2008, to May 3, 2009. Rosenbach Museum & Library, 2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia; (215)732-1600; -- T.S.

Sendak on Sendak

The Rosenbach’s “There’s a Mystery There” exhibit will feature exclusive interview footage that helps trace Sendak’s influences -- which include Moby-Dick author Herman Melville and romantic poet William Blake -- and illustrate his complex creative process. Here’s a sampling of Sendak’s thoughts on his work.

On being an illustrator:
An illustrator, in my own mind … is someone who so falls in love with the writing that he wishes he had written it, and the closest thing he can get is to illustrate it.

On the illustrator’s subversive role:
The next thing you learn is that you have to find something unique in this book, which perhaps not even the author was entirely aware of. And that’s what you hold on to, and that’s what you add to the pictures: a whole Other Story that you believe in, that you think is there.

On the enigma of creativity:
That will be the mystery that will haunt me until the day of my death: What is that thing that comes into the work that is not premeditated, that you didn’t think of, that actually belongs there but you don’t know how it got there?

On the enigma wrapped in that enigma:
It’s really about the spirit, and I find that hard to talk about because, you know, I’m a cynic. I don’t know from the spirit, and yet I do. And that is a great puzzle of my life. … Something deeper is involved, deeper in myself than I know what it is.