Did You Read Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak as a Child?
I didn’t have access to those kinds of books when I was growing up in Jamaica. And I only read Where the Wild Things Are last year, when I was feasting on books that people usually read when they are kids – The Giving Tree; Oh, the Places You’ll Go; Green Eggs and Ham, Goodnight Moon and so on. The Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library has a small gallery, and recently, for several weeks, they had an exhibition to display 50 years of Where the Wild Things Are. The exhibition is a tribute to the book, which has won multiple awards. [I took lots of photos at the exhibit, uploaded them to Dropbox, without checking they were there, then deleted them from my camera. They are not in Dropbox, which messes up what I wanted to do with this post. Oh darn!]
First published in 1963, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is a children’s picture book that’s under 350 words. The author beautifully illustrates the book to complement the story that you can read in under 10 minutes. The main character, Max is the typical young boy, who has a lot of energy. He chases the dog and runs wild in the house. He is wearing his wolf suit while he makes mischief. His mother calls him a wild thing. Max is quite naughty, telling his mother that he will eat her up, so she sends him to his bed without his supper. While he is in his room, it mysteriously transforms into a jungle. He sets sail to an island that is inhabited by fierce looking creatures that are called Wild Things. We already know Max’s ability to wreak havoc, so in no time he tames the creatures, becoming their king.
What I found poignant in Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, is that when the wild things are wreaking havoc, Max says, “Now stop!” Then he sends the wild things to bed without their supper – the same thing that his mother did to him. He soon tires of his kingly role and wants to return home because it’s a place where there is someone who loves him best of all. He gives up his role of being king of where the wild kings are. Of course, the wild things do not want him to leave, but they cannot stop him because Max is determined to go home. When the young boy returns home, he discovers a warm supper awaiting him in his bedroom.
“An ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max and he sailed off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are…. Max stepped into his private boat and waved good-bye and sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day and into the night of his very own room.”
Location and time is also very important in the story. Look at his journey to where the wild things are, and his return journey home. This is a story of monkey see, monkey do. Max’s mother sends him to bed without his supper, so he sends the wild things to bed without supper. I also mentioned that the words complement the story – there are several pages where there are no words just the pictures, which moves the story along, until Maurice Sendak continues the story with both words and pictures. The reader is brought into the world of where the wild things are.
It’s an interesting fantasy, but I can’t say it moved me. There are other children’s books that touched me more deeply. It’s a great book, though! Perhaps, I would have enjoyed this book more, had I read it as a child. Books like Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak are important because they often fire the imagination, allowing you to step into the world of make believe where anything is possible. Let your imagination run wild and see what ideas you can cook up.
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