Remembering the Wild Things
Today, Kate recommends revisiting Maurice Sendak:
“When I was a girl, my father often read to me before bed, using voices, accents, and enthusiasm that I can only endeavor to imitate now that the years have passed and I am reading to my daughter myself. One of my favorite books to read with my father was Maurice Sendak's Higglety Pigglety Pop!, a chapter book about the existential searchings of a fluffy dog named Jennie. Even as a child I recognized that the book had a sadness to it, a poignancy, and that it spoke to its young readers in a way that was subtler and more complex than a lot of the other fare available for my age group.
With my preschooler now discovering the pleasures of books - we recently found her 'reading' on her own when she awoke early one morning - I picked up a 10-cent copy of Where the Wild Things Are at a local library sale. I didn't remember the book well and wondered if she might find the illustrations scary, but we've both been charmed by its odd tale and loving resolution.
The well-known drawings are still peerless, and the text is almost poetry, with a cadence completely its own and unlike much else to be found in children's literature. The story is ambiguous - boy misbehaves and is punished, boy escapes punishment by joining a decadent fantasy world of monsters and capricious leadership, boy grows lonely and travels home - but the moral is one of pure love: his mother, to whom he was rude, has saved his warm supper for his return. No adults appear in the story, and the main character is certainly no model child. But the book is beautiful, and a joy to read. I also recently purchased Mudpuppy's beautiful floor puzzle with a scene from story, and my daughter immediately recognized it from our readings. Sendak is both enormously influential and still without match, and really worth a revisit.”