For Traditional Thursday, I chose the book, Where the Wild Things Are, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. It is one of the most loved and acclaimed children’s books of all time making it the winner of the 1964 Caldecott Medal for the Most Distinguished Picture Book of The Year. It has been on many teacher’s and children’s bookshelves all over the country, but what is so remarkable and timeless about this story? I wanted to delve deeper into the messages that Sendak is relaying to his young readers and how it still impacts us today.
This book is about a young boy named Max who loves wearing his wolf suit and making mischief. Through his rather naughty behavior, he is sent to his room without eating anything, but his imagination transforms his room into a forest where he could sail off to meet other wild things. While meeting Wild things, he was able to befriend and rule over these creatures becoming the “King of all wild things.” Together, Max and his friends were able to create all the ruckus and noise they wanted. However, he missed home and the smell of good food, so Max said his goodbyes to his dear friends. That night, he sails back into his own room and is happy to see hot supper waiting for him.
Through Max, Sendak was able to show all children and adults that imagination is a gift that we all have. If we are open to seeing the world beyond what is here, we can craft a world where we become the main characters of our own crazy stories. We can sail far, far away to foreign lands. We can befriend the wildest friends. We can become kings. Children are more open to expressing their imagination than adults. But does imagination ever leave us? It never left us when we were children, and it never will. It is a part of who we are. As a little boy, Max shows all of us not to be afraid of creating your personalized world. Everyone can live out their dreams no matter how wild they are, and we can be the individuals we’ve always wanted to be without being afraid.
Max shows us that we can silence our fears and be the masters of our stories. When Max stands up to the wild things that were roaring their terrible roars and gnashing their terrible teeth, Max says “BE STILL!” He becomes the superhero. As adults, we constantly live in fear without acting on anything. Instead of learning how to conquer our fears, we often sit and just think about it. If this little boy can courageously look at fear in the eyes and magically make them obey him, how different would our lives be if we did the same? Being brave is a choice, and Max is the perfect example of someone who makes the brave choice in order to lead and make friends.
One last thing, that I took away from this children’s book is the comfort of home. Max became very lonely even with his all wild friends and wanted to be with someone he loved. He chooses to sail back home despite everything he could be in his own world. I strongly believe that this teaches all of us that the feeling of wanting to be home never leaves us. My mother would read this teary-eyed if she knew that I missed her warm meals. If I told her that I missed the smell and coziness of being home. No matter how old we get even as college students, we all ache where we came from. Max shows us that there is the little child in all of us that knows that wherever our imagination and our life takes us, we can always come home, to the place where everything started. The place where we know hot meals await us.
This story teaches us many lessons from having an imagination, being brave, and knowing where we belong. Sendak is able to captivate his audience with his beautiful and creative illustrations while being able to teach valuable lessons that are still applicable to our lives today.