Wednesday, 9 May 2012

And They Roared their Terrible Roars.....

'Where the Wild Things Are' portrays a boy called Max who is sent to his room without his supper as a result of his naughty shenanigans only to escape into a fantasy world of monsters and mayhem. 

I find this book impossible to read out loud without employing great dramatic gusto. It is one of our favourite books and my son took great pleasure in wearing his Max* costume to world book day celebrations at school this year.  *Ahem, that should in fact read homemade costume. Such a rare event that it merits special mention.

The book was controversial when it was published in 1963 as it portrayed a childhood world which was malevolent and dangerous as well as playful. My son picks up on the inherent tension in the book by showing his concern that Max may be hurt by the monsters and worrying about where Max's mummy and daddy are whilst Max is having his adventures. He revels in the fact that a small boy can enjoy such grown up adventures and display such authority over much bigger creatures, but is also relieved when Max realises that he just wanted to be where someone loved him best of all. Don't we all.

"they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled 
their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws"

The author Maurice Sendak died yesterday aged 83. A child of a Polish Jewish immigrant family, the tragedies his family suffered during the depression and holocaust clearly deeply influenced his subsequent work.

"It forced me to take children to a level that I thought was more honest than most 
people did,"he once said. "Because if life is so critical, if Anne Frank could die, 
if my friend could die, children were as vulnerable as adults, and that gave 
me a secret purpose to my work, to make them live. Because I wanted to live. 
I wanted to grow up." (source - The Guardian)
He did get to grow up, and he leaves behind a legacy of wonderful books and illustrations for future generations of Maxs, Idas, Mickeys and Rosies

Author/illustrator Maurice Sendak standing by an life-size scene from his book "Where The Wild Things Are" at the Children's Museum of Manhattan.
Credit: James Keyser/Time Life Pictures/Getty
"and he sailed off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost a year 
to where the wild things are."