Where the Wild Things Are
Sendak, Maurice. Where the Wild Things Are: Illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Harper, 1963. 40 pages.
Maurice Sendak’s dark childhood imagination was exposed in his picture book, Where the Wild Things Are. The main character, Max, was a troublesome child who had a hard time dealing with authority. This theme of refusing authority sent Max on a wild adventure. Being sent to his room without dinner, Max paraded around his room, painting up a world of his own. He sailed off from his dull world. He sailed off to the place where the wild things are. After meeting and having a rumpus with the wild things, Max grew homesick. He returned home to find that dinner was waiting for him.
Sendak, the author and illustrator, knew how to perfectly adjoin art with text in this picture book. The book started out with text on a blank white page and a small square of illustration, made up of mostly straight lines. As the book progressed, the pictures took up more and more space, signifying Max’s growing imagination. Every addition to Max’s imagination was accompanied by a line of text starting with the word “and” to highlight that Max’s new world was not tamable. Colors became more and more vivid, lines became more abstract, and the words disappeared when the boy and the wild things participated in a “wild rumpus.” After the rumpus, Max was on his way home. Therefore, the pictures got smaller and the illustrations more mundane.
“That very night in Max’s room a forest grew…and grew-”
Although Max is a trouble-maker and shows disrespect toward his mother, he learns great lessons about family. He was exiled to his room, dinner-less. But, when he returns from his trip, he finds that his mother left him food, and it was still hot. While children read this book or are read this book, they might ask why he was given his dinner after running away or why he would run away from his mother. These are ethical questions that a child might ask knowing that a family should love each other and show respect.