Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
|Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak|
|Genre: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Magda Healey|
|Summary: A mixture of imagination, dreams and very realistic toddler psychology, combined with wonderful illustrations in this deserved picture book classic. A must for any child aged 2 to 4.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 48||Date: May 2000|
|Publisher: Red Fox|
A Times Educational Supplement Teachers' Top 100 Book
This is one of these rare things, a picture book suitable for toddlers as young as 18 months, definitely 2 years old, but enjoyable to parents as well - seriously enjoyable, not just because the little one likes it.
Max puts on his wolf suit, and after a little tantrum and threatening Mama with eating her up, he gets sent to bed without supper, and is called the wildest thing of all by his Mama. Luckily, a wild forest grows in his room, and a boat is ready to take him to an island where the wild things are. He becomes their king and a wild rumpus ensues, but eventually even such a wild thing as Max longs to return home to safety and warmth where somebody loves him: and that's exactly what happens, and the supper is there - still warm.
It's a wonderful book. If you buy one picture book this year and haven't got Where the Wild Things Are yet, make it this one.
The story is engaging and entertaining, with a mixture of reality and fantasy, with a dreamland of fulfilled wishes and scary anxieties. The book explores the hidden, the subconscious or maybe pre-conscious and its universal appeal lies probably in the fact that it externalises the wild thing within. This is an illuminating and cathartic thing (every so often) for anybody, but it's even more valuable for a small child just starting to delineate his or her borders and learning to assert their independence, both behaviourally and emotionally while being very scared of a separation that goes with it and the rejection by the parent that might result.
But it's a book, not a therapy session and it's fantastically written too, in a hypnotic rhythm of sentences which unfold with dream-like clarity (yes, there is such a thing!). See for yourself: That very night in Max's room a forest grew(turn a page) and grew (turn a page) until his ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around (turn a page) and an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max and he sailed off through night and day (turn a page) and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are.
And it's all perfectly complemented with illustrations - pencil and muted colours, very surrealistic in style, totally magical. Each page brings new, wondrous landscapes to explore. There is Max, a rather mean looking little boy actually, not at all sweet in his wolf suit; and there are of course the wild things themselves, with giant yellow eyes and somehow sad expressions, scary but very funny too, with enough edge to place a seed of doubt in a little mind, but with the storyline leaving no doubt that they are totally controllable - with another lesson here: as we know but the child might unconsciously realise, they are creations of Max's imagination and as such, are only as scary as he allows them to be.
I can't praise this book enough: it's deservingly a classic and a highly recommended one.
For other books with big fantasy creatures, try Julia Donaldson's The Gruffalo or Judith Kerr's The Tiger Who Came To Tea. For another picture book with a poetic quality of language, you might like The Cat, The Crow and the Banyan Tree by Penelope Lively.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is in the Top Ten Timeless Picture Books To Treasure Forever.
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I remember this book from my childhood and because I loved it so much (that and the Meg and Mog stories) I bought it and Meg and Mog for my best friend's twins. They were immediately enchanted. You are so right to give it five stars.