Tony DiTerlizzi, author of 'The Spiderwick Chronicles', wrote a guest article for Hero Complex in which he unfolds the mystery behind the almost collaboration of J.R.R. Tolkien & Maurice Sendak. His article is amazing... here is a short excerpt talking about what went wrong:
"As Sendak noted passages for possible illustration and sketched in the margins of his copy of the book, the publisher prepared the art samples for Tolkien’s approval. The editor mislabeled the samples, however, identifying the wood-elves as “hobbits,” as Sendak recalled to Maguire. This blunder nettled Tolkien. His reply was that Sendak had not read the book closely and did not know what a hobbit was. Consequently, Tolkien did not approve the drawings. Sendak was furious.Well, I for one hope Sendak punched that dickbag editor in the face. The article supposedly contained the two illustrations discussed above, but only one is actually Sendak's. Here it is:
In hopes that all could be smoothed over between the two, the publisher arranged for a meeting in Oxford while Sendak was in England touring for the U.K. release of “Wild Things.” The day before their meeting, Sendak suffered his first major heart attack. He was 39. Sendak spent several weeks recovering in a hospital in Birmingham. He never met with Tolkien, and the project was abandoned."