Tuesday 6 September 2011

Picture Books Which Changed the World : 2

Number 2:  WHERE THEWILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak

Now then book addicts, it’s raining out there again and these nights are growing dark early. So I decided that, seeing as I’ve had my evening stroll, I’d go back to my prized shelf of classic picture books and sink into my favourite reading chair for the evening.

If I tell you how old the next book is in my collection you wont be surprised that it’s a little bit covered in cobwebs and needs a moment of attention from my feather duster.

Where The Wild Things Are was first published in……wait for it…..1963. Dear oh dear, that’s a very ancient 48 years ago. Quite impressive to think that almost half a century later, that book is still having an impact on young children all over the world…and book sniffing pooches like me, of course.

Now I do love a good MONSTER story. Especially when the nights are drawing in. And what better example than Maurice Sendak’s wonderful book. A perfect mixture of fun and frightening frolics with fantastical beastly characters and mischievous Max, the young boy through which the story is told.

 When Max is sent to bed for causing chaos in his wolf costume and threatening to eat his mother, his wild imagination causes a great forest to grow around him and when a rolling, crashing sea appears he climbs into a boat and sets sail on a long journey to the land of the wild things. Max meets a whole host of terrible monster types and tames them all by staring into their yellowy eyes. He is eventually made ‘King of all the Wild Things’ when they decide that he is the wildest of all and he leads them all on a rumpus where they sing and howl and dance their way through the pages.

But Max ally he becomes homesick and though the beasts beg him to stay, he decides to make the long journey home and return to his room where, luckily, his supper is waiting for him, still piping hot.

The book is one of the best examples of the unique and inimitable style that has made Maurice Sendak one of the worlds best known and most successful children’s writers and illustrators.

Apparently, he based the monsters in the story on relatives who visited his family home as a child.

‘I knew that my mother’s cooking was pretty terrible, and there was every possibility that they would eat me, or my sister or brother.’ He said.

Dear, oh dear, what an incredible imagination that man has. But nonetheless it did him a lot of good, the book won the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1964 as the most distinguished American Picture Book for Children that year and the books popularity over time has lead to it being animated as a short film, adapted into an opera and more recently, 2009 to be exact, it was turned into a Hollywood blockbuster, directed by Spike Jonze.

It has now also sold somewhere near to 19 million copies. Swoooooon, that is a lot of books my dear friends!

At the grand age of 83 Maurice Sendak is still writing and illustrating children’s books having published his latest creation ‘Bumble-Ardy’ in May of this year. Well done Uncle Maurice. Keep up the good work.

1 comment:

  1. In 1970 in my first year of teaching, this was a favourite of mine. I returned to it over and over during the years. It will be around long after I am gone ...as all good books should outlast many generations.


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