Maurice Sendak, in my opinion, struck oil when he created this children's story. Childhood memories can be shady or impossible to remember until you discover something that came directly from your childhood. Where the Wild Things Are has that magical power over me. Every time I hear of the book or see the familiar images I return to the age of six when I received my first (and only) copy of the book from my teacher as a Christmas present.
It was my favorite book as a child and one of the first books I ever read on my own. The story struck a cord in me and even now when I read it I remember what excited me so much.
While some children would be scared of the story I found it to be fantastic. The premises is that a little boy (Max) is sent to bed without any dinner because of his poor behavior. This immediately was seen as fantasy to my child eyes because I had never before been sent to bed without a meal. The idea was blasphemous and to me was impossible to occur! But I knew there were other kids who were bad and would get punished. I had just never thought that such a punishment could be no food. He stomps off into his room and it magically becomes a forest. I think this was my most favorite part of the book. I would look at the illustrations over and over again because I understood, in my child's mind, exactly how a bedroom could become a forest. I mean, my bedroom turned into a ship, Santa's sleigh, and forests all the time; why couldn't Max's room do the same?
He adventures off to the land where the wild things are. Monsters of sorts who are made up of different body parts from different animals. This scared me slightly as a child. While Max joyfully joined the wild things I would have paired them as the scary monsters in any of my playtimes. But seeing that Max didn't find them all that scary and they in turn seemed to worship Max I realized... maybe monsters aren't all that scary.
I'd love to say that this book enlightened me to believe that wild things who look scary might not actually be. It's not the outside that counts, blah blah. But they still kind of creeped me out and I still had plenty of monsters in my playtime moments.
But the book remained a classic in my mind. I would read it over and over. When I got older and was doing art project for school I recall making the wild things out of clay and even today I feel a soft happiness inside of me when I look over the colorful drawings and read the brief story. As a child it's a great story to loose yourself in and a wonderful start for a child to learn to read. As an adult it holds the warmth of nostalgia.
I'm happy to say that Where the Wild Things Are is being made into a movie! Whenever I discover a book I enjoy is being made into a movie I'm initially excited but grow apprehensive once clips start being shown. We haven't gotten to that point yet. Only photos have been produced and the movie poster... all of which reach my high level of expectation. I'm pretty excited for this to come out. It's release date is slated to be October 16th of this year. I'll surely be going to see it that very weekend. It will surely be something decent to bring children to and quite possibly a good time for the adults who recall reading this book as a child. I can't wait!
Edit: the trailer for the movie went public this afternoon! Follow the link to see it here.