Where the Wild Things Are’? Maurice Sendak’s classic may be one of those essay on robot for kids that are appreciated more in theory, or by adults, than by actual kids. Internet Explorer 9 or earlier. Go to the home page to see the latest top stories.
More articles about Maurice Sendak. Where the Wild Things Are. Zooey Deschanel movie for grade schoolers. Plus the book wasn’t any good.
I liked the way Jonze has recapitulated the Dürer-meets-Mad-magazine quality of Sendak’s illustrations. But as for the second part of Isaac’s critique — and I’m a little anxious stating this publicly — I didn’t think the book was any good either. Or let me qualify that. Actually, I think it’s brilliant. The wit and richness of Sendak’s drawings, the poetic concision of his story, its empathy and dreamlike lilt, can move me near to tears. As he stews, his room transforms into a jungle. What an empowering, psychologically astute parable about a child learning that his anger, while sometimes overwhelming and scary, can be safely expressed and eventually conquered, I thought, when I had occasion to reread the book in my 30s.
I don’t really remember why. Maybe I was too literal-minded to be transported by Sendak’s dream logic. Not that I didn’t like make-believe, but I also liked rules. Old-school fairy tales, with their clear villains and bloody, well-deserved vengeance: that’s what worked for me.
I was 4 when it was published in 1963. Caldecott Medal on its cover. A budding critic, I had a premature and probably unhealthy interest in consensus. 60s progressive totem alongside Danish modern furniture, African art and the sticky, stale-sweet smell of pipe tobacco. But once I finally got it — a convert! Yet neither Isaac, as you know, nor his older sister, Zoe, much cared for it. I had found Sendak’s parable less liberating than off-putting or even frightening.