Thursday, August 22, 2013

Where the Wild Things Are - Book review

It is fair to say that sometimes I over-analyze things.  It's just sort of how I am.  I fear that I may be going a little overzealous on the book Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak (LINK):

I am admittedly a little confused on the message of this book.  I mean, Cat In the Hat?  Message there is obviously not to let a 6-foot talking cat into your house, he's going to screw crap up.  Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? has the whole exposition of the concept of endangered animals, I get that.  But I'm not really sure what the point of Where the Wild Things Are is, as delightful as I find the book.  And it's a very fun book, we read it often, I just am not entirely sure what message I am delivering.

The book starts with a child named Max in a furry suit (a wolf, more specifically).  We see him chase the dog with a fork and tell his mom that he's going to cannibalize her.  Here, check out this poor dog's face:

That dog is giving nothing short of an "oh, crap" face there.  Anyway, Max's mom decides the appropriate method of dealing with her possessed child is to withhold food from him, and sends him to bed without dinner.  (I guess she didn't want to feed the beast?  Maybe he's like a Gremlin, and he gets evil with food?  I don't know.)

So, then Max appears to go into some sort of dissociative fugue.  His bedroom turns into a forest.  This admittedly is one of my favorite parts of the book, I looked all over for tutorials on how to make A a bed that looks like this, but came up short:

So, then his floor turns into the ocean, and he sails over hours and in and out of days, etc.  He gets to a land of monsters.  At first he wants to make as much noise as possible, so he leads them on a rumpus and they make him king of the monsters.  But then he must get pissed or something, and decides to also send THEM to bed without any food.  So, I guess it's sort of like a cycle of food withholding, which really isn't anything to joke about.  Anyway, he gets sort of bored and wants to be back near his mom (Stockholm syndrome?), so he sails back home just in time to see dinner waiting on him.

I use the book to explain to A about all of the places her imagination can take her and so on - but I really do wonder that maybe Max is an undiagnosed, untreated, possibly violent schizophrenic. What if this poor boy is crying out for help when he tries to eat people and dogs, and then he loses time in reality?  Surely the treatment can't be to keep him from eating, unless all of the food you're giving him is laced with hallucinogenics.  And if that IS the case - just stop feeding him hallucinogenics.  It's actually pretty easy, I just don't eat hallucinogenics all of the time.  I'm doing it right now!

Seriously, though, we do love this book.  But, yeah.  It's sort of weird.


  1. Isn't it weird how many books you loved from childhood are sort of creepy when you read them to your kids?

    1. Yes!! This one was sort of terrifying when I took a macro view of it!