Friday, January 13, 2012

"Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak

Ah yes...books that inspired me, part 2. This one is pretty obvious, in fact, I'm sure 99.9% of all the folks of my age group will list this one somewhere on their all time list of favorites. Hey, what's not to like?!  

Released in 1963, this book revolutionized children's picture books. But the literary establishment of the day was not quite ready for this revolution it seems...the book was banned by many school libraries and at first dismissed by the critics. But somewhere along the line, someone in the establishment realized, "Wow! The kids really seem to like this funny little book about monsters."  Apparently opinions changed in the literary world..."Where the Wild Things Are" was awarded the Caldecott Award for the best illustrated children's book for 1964 and has gone on to be one of the most popular and iconic children's books of all time.
 As a child, I was mesmerized by this book. Maurice Sendak's illustrative style was so original and amazing. His use of line is so lyrical as it flows effortlessly across the page. I remember being impressed by his use of pen and ink, of how he as able to achieve such depth and fullness in his characters using a simple art pen and watercolors. His intricate use of detail is what inspired me to draw, his vivid imagination inspired me to see things in a different way.

Most children can see a little of themselves in Max, the main character in this book. Sometimes our playfulness could get a little out of hand, sometimes we needed a time out to settle us down...but what happens during that time out is left up to our imaginations. But in the end, after all our bad behavior, we would still be welcomed back home with our supper waiting for us...and it will still be hot.


  1. This was part of my library as a kid as well. But I really don't remember liking it. I think the illustrations scared me.

  2. You picked a venerable work for your inspiration. This picture book is why I think picture books are art books for all ages, including children.

  3. I always loved this book and so did my kids. To this day, we quote that last line -- "And it was still hot." I remember liking the illustrations a lot more than Dr. Seuss's, which others raved about, but which always left me cold. Sendak's monsters look wicked in a cute way.

  4. I thought the "wild things" with the non-human features were most bizarre, especially the eagle headed one!
    I wrote a story called "Monsters" several years back which I should really do something with. At the time I was working on it, I relished at the thought of creating some wild things of my own. I developed some interesting characters and was happy with the progress, but for some reason set it aside. Maybe I'll fiddle around with the idea again after I get further along on my newest project.
    Dr. Seuss had some great pen and ink skills, but Sendak was more detailed in his craft. I enjoy Theodore Geisel's simplicity of line but I also appreciate Maurice Sendak's intricate detail...Robert McCloskey's work is genius as well!!