As many of you already know, world-famous children’s book author and illustrator, Maurice Sendak passed away last week. It’s all over the news, and probably all over many kid lit blogs. But I want to add my own special mention to the mix. The very first book I reviewed here on Frog On A Blog, back in 2009, was Where the Wild Things Are, which is probably Mr. Sendak’s most well-known title. He has, of course, written and illustrated numerous others, as well as contributed to anthologies and so forth, and he has been the subject of a few biographies as well. Parodies and adaptations have been created based on Where the Wild Things Are too. His books have been printed in several languages. The cover at the top right shows the French version of Where the Wild Things Are.
When I was a child, one of my treasures was a little book collection called Nutshell Library. I received it as a birthday gift. Unfortunately, I don’t remember how old I was. It’s now been passed on to nieces and nephews and it’s definitely seen better days. Copies are still available for sale today and can usually be found at a reasonable price. Maurice Sendak’s Nutshell Library includes four small books: Pierre, Alligators All Around, Chicken Soup with Rice, and One Was Johnny. I think it’s a great gift idea.
Below, I have posted my original review of Where the Wild Things Are:
Inspired by the recent film adaptation, I decided to reread Where The Wild Things Are, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, and originally published in 1963 by Harper & Row. It won the Caldecott Medal in 1964. I think most picture book fans have read it, or read it to their children, at least once in their lives. I think this book is great fun despite the rumors that some parents think it’s too frightening for young children. This may perhaps be true of the recent film version, but the book portrays the “wild things” as big, goofy, even somewhat cuddly looking creatures. Certainly mild by today’s standards. If you truly want to analyze the story, there is a message here and I think it’s a timeless one for every parent and child. All children get upset sometimes and may even throw tantrums, act out or “be wild”. And they may be punished for it. But in time, the fit passes and they know that they are still loved despite their behavior and despite their punishment. All children should feel this sense of love and security at home.