Musings Parenting

Maurice Sendak: 6/10/1928 to 5/8/2012

“And Max the king of all wild things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.” Where The Wild Things Are

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From my earliest moments all the way to the present day, books have always been a major part of my life. One of those early moments was spent with Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are. I adored that book as a child, but if you had asked me why back then, I probably wouldn’t have been able to explain. Looking back, I may have been attracted to the short, succinct sentences, the amazing and wild pictures, or the simplicity of the storyline. But somewhere deep inside, I think I was attracted to Max’s, the main character’s, behavior and attitude.  Max embodies BOY in all its pureness. He is wild, aggressive, and unbound. His imagination is limitless within the confinement of reality. The world inside his imagination is as wild as he is, but the feelings are the same whether in his world or the world outside his mind. Those are the things that drew me in.

As an adult, I love reading Where The Wild Things Are to my children. Now though, I have picked a different aspect to enjoy. In the story, Max is disciplined for his wild behavior, but although he is upset by the discipline, he still knows that his mother loves him. How do I know?  Because, in the end, he returns home to where “he is loved best of all.” I also love that the food is waiting for him once he returns. The food shows that although the boy’s behavior resulted in discipline, his mother did not forget about his needs. He was sent to his room without supper, but he was still fed.

Sendak captured perfectly a child’s imagination in books like Where The Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, and Outside Over There. And he did this, amazingly, by letting children use their imagination while reading the story. He didn’t need to overindulge his readers with unnecessary language. Sendak got to the point and let you take it from there. His use of minimalistic sentences was literary perfection.

And finally, I also love how Sendak was able to portray a child’s fears. Fear of loneliness and danger reside in all children and nobody portrayed this more honestly than Sendak. Through his characters adventures and activities, children have been able to learn that they are not alone in their fears, behaviors, and attitudes. He also was able to help adults relate to their children by providing them with windows into children’s minds, as well as our own.  I don’t think anyone else has been so perfectly able to think as both a child and adult at the same time.

I’m sad at the passing of this literary genius, but I’m so thankful for the presents he left behind for all of us.  Now, “Let the wild rumpus start!”

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