Maurice Sendak wrote WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE in 1963.
Children since have read and been read that story for so many years that it is a vivid part of young memories and home libraries.
That title brought Sendak international acclaim. Not only as a children’s book author but also as one of the world’s great illustrators.
For this, we say “thank you, Mr.Sendak.”
My sons, now almost 21 and 16 years old, both enjoyed hearing their Dad read the story just before they fell asleep many nights.
Admittedly, the story conjured up dreams.
In some cases, nightmares.
“Scary but fantastic,” said my son Colin. “The story took me into another realm.”
Sendak allowed for the young imagination to roam free, far and wide. A place where Sendak himself, a sickly child, did not get to do physically but did get to do inside his mind. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE took Sendak far away while he sat in his Bensonhurst, New York apartment peering out his window as other children played.
“The illustrations opened up my world to a far greater landscape than just where I lived in Greenwich, Ct, at the time,” said my other son Wyatt.
The book helped our boys at a young age to learn how to navigate a globe well beyond a tiny part of their universe where they lived daily. Our boys enjoy and seek out world travel because of this book.
The drawings, magical words and mischievousness all built around a playful plot allowed both troublemakers and goody two-shoe children relate. Sendak had a foundness for causing trouble but in a delightful and wonderful way.
The story tells how the character Max, one evening near his home, is caught by his mother being mischievous while wearing a wolf costume.
As a punishment she sends him to bed without his supper.
For Max that time out turns into a wild adventure.
That bedroom opens up and brings out Max’s full imagination. A mysterious, wild forest along with a ferocious sea quickly develops.
Max sails to the world of the Wild Things. These creatures appear monstrous but Max learns he has all the power. They come under his spell. Max conquers them by “staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once.”
Max becomes “the king of all wild things.” They dance a primitive dance called a “wild rumpus” with all the creatures joining. Max now realizes, although he still enjoys the world of the Wild Things, he’s lonely, he misses his home and his family.
What child does not feel that feeling at some point in his or her young life.
Soon Max finds himself back in the comfort of his home where a warm supper made by his Mother awaits him, still hot.
Max should be thankful for the timeout. Readers, we’re quite thankful to Mr. Sendak.
What adult does not feel that same feeling at some point in his or her adult life.
The simplicity of words and the colorful images will be with all of us forever.
The book sold over 19 million copies worldwide as of 2009. Widely considered one of the most important children’s author and artist of the 20th century.
Good Night Maurice Sendak from Saratoga!
Maurice Sendak, 83, died Tuesday May 8 in Danbury, Connecticut from complications from a recent stroke. Sendak lived in Ridgefield, Ct.
Maurice Bernard Sendak was born in Brooklyn on June 10, 1928.