On this day in 1963, the classic children’s story Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak was published, and it’s still beloved by children and adults everywhere. So, what has made this wild tale so cherished over the years?
Where The Wild Things Are tells the story of Max, an imaginative young boy dressed in a wolf suit who has been sent to bed without supper after misbehaving all day. When he falls asleep, his room transforms into a whimsical land of wild things. The wild things try to frighten and intimidate Max, but when they see that he is unafraid, they make him their king. They have a wild rumpus, making a lot of commotion in a way only wild things can. Soon, Max becomes homesick, longing for “…where someone loved him most of all.” Max is taken out of the fantasy when he smells his dinner. Despite the protest of the wild things, Max returns to his room and his mother, ready for supper.
Where The Wild Things Are was met with mixed reviews and even banned in some places. People were worried that the book would glorify temper tantrums and other aspects of it were too dark for children. But these elements are what made it so popular. The book was among the first of its kind to take the emotions of children seriously. Max is a realistic child that misbehaves and gets angry, too young to really consider the consequences. Max is someone kids can identify with. It also teaches children to channel their emotions creatively, to not just be destructive with it. Finally, it teaches kids that even when they misbehave, there will always be people that love them. Maybe it’s these lessons that make Where The Wild Things Are so popular.
Or maybe it’s just fun to be a wild thing every once and a while.