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Friday, October 16, 2009

Not for Kids Only

Today’s release of the intriguing film version of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak reminded me that some picture books are for all ages. Published in 1963, the book has only 10 sentences. It tells the story of a boy named Max, who is punished for “making mischief” and sent to his room without his supper. There, Max imagines a wild forest and sea and sails to the Land of the Wild Things. He conquers these fearsome monsters and becomes their king. However, he soon becomes homesick and returns home where his supper is waiting.

It is Sendak’s memorable illustrations that have made the book a classic. Apparently the wild things originally were going to be horses until Sendak’s editor suggested a switch when she realized he couldn’t draw them. Instead, he used caricatures of his aunts and uncles which he remembered from their visits to his childhood home in Brooklyn.

Why does the book also appeal to adults? One critic believes the book makes “an entirely deliberate, and beautiful, use of the psychoanalytic story of anger.” In the book, The Art of Maurice Sendak, the author says that Where the Wild Things Are, as well as his two other books, In the Night Kitchen and Outside Over There form a trilogy on “how children master various feelings.”

Here’s a few more picture books that appeal to the kid in all of us:

The Stinky Cheese Man by Jon Scieszka

The Three Pigs by David Wiesner

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg


edwin sanchez said...

Definitely grew up on this book...

Pat said...

I agree. It is a classic for a certain generation. Heard from a colleague who saw the film and loved it, although critics have complained it doesn't stick closely to the book. (I guess it is hard to make a feature-length film out of 10 sentences.)