Maurice Sendak: Where the Wild Things Are

Brought to you by OBS Staff Member Rose

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I grew up having Where The Wild Things Are become of one my most treasured possessions.  What child could not relate to precocious Max and his wild imagination or his need to cause mischief? Dressed in wolf footy pajamas topped off with his gold crown, Max chases the dog with a fork and gets into trouble for mouthing off to his mother. Max is then sent to his room. For a child this is not so bad, he has his imagination to keep him company. His bedroom comes alive and turns into a glorious forest where he comes across an ocean and sailboat. He sets off to the land of where the Wild Things are.

Where The Wild Things are is 36 pages classic picture book, of marvelous illustrations of  scary yet cuddling looking creatures created by Maurice Sendak. If you never had the pleasure of reading this fantastic children’s book, here is the story in its entirety:

The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another, his mother called to him “WILD THING!” and Max said “I’LL EAT YOU UP”. So he was sent to bed without eating anything.

That very night in Max’s room a forest grew and grew and grew until his ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around and the 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.

And when he came to the place where the wild things are they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws till Max said “BE STILL!” and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once and they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all and made him king of all wild things.

“And now, “ cried Max, “let the wild rumpus start!”  (3 pages depicting of Max frolicking with his new pack of wild things friends, swinging form trees, riding on their backs, and howling at the moon).

“Now stop!” Max said and sent the wild things off to bed without their supper.  And Max the king of all wild things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all. Then all around from far away across the world he smelled good things to eat so he gave up being king of where the wild things are.

But the wild things cried, “Oh please don’t go, we’ll eat you up – we love you so!” And Max said “No!” The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws but Max stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye and sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks and through the day and into the night of his very own room where he found his supper waiting for him and it was still hot.

The imaginative adventure Max has is symbolic of his anger at his mother and his want to get away to a world where he doesn’t have to answer to anyone. When he is made king of the Wild Things he is now in charge and emulates his mother by repeating her actions, by sending the creatures off to bed without supper, typical behavior of a child mimicking their parents behavior. After Max grows tired of being king and grows lonely is his imaginary world, he quickly returns to what he knows best.

The moral of this story is no matter how upset you get with the ones you love, there is nothing like family and there’s no place like home.

This book should be a must-have for every child’s library or an adult like myself that grew up loving the story and wanted it for my collection.

Where The Wild Things Are has been adapted for the silver screen and is currently showing in theaters.