*Certain books are easier to review differently than in my usual format — this is one of them.
I have heard great things about this book my entire life, but I never actually read it. My interest was piqued in high school when I found out the guy who I was in love with was in love with this story, but still, I never got around to reading it. So here I am, twenty years old, finally reading Where the Wild Things Are. Want to know how I’m feeling? Pretty let down, to be honest.
Where the Wild Things Are is about a young boy named Max who is sent to his room without supper because he’s being reckless and wild. His room suddenly turns into a forest, and he sails across an ocean to find where the wild things are. He finds them, alright, and they are big with yellow eyes and sharp claws. Max becomes king of the wild things and they love him. Eventually, Max gets lonely and goes home, where he finds his hot supper waiting for him in his room.
So I liked the illustrations — let’s start with that. Max almost always looked angry, and even when he was smiling he looked like a little asshole, which is how I envisioned he would look anyway. The monsters were unusual and mostly looked either happy or suspicious. I mean look at the big brown one behind Max — he looks like he’s about to hit him. And the one Max is riding on — he looks up to no good. I read that the monsters are caricatures of Sendak’s aunts and uncles, drawn by Sendak when he was a child. That makes it even better. I know I wasn’t that creative as a child… Sendak did a great job with the illustrations and they definitely helped carry on the story.
The writing was simple and easy for a child to read and comprehend, so I liked that too. I can see why parents flock to this book for their children to learn to read. However, I’m not sure I understand the importance of this book. I realize that Max is coping with his anger through imagination, and that he realizes that he’s lonely away from his loving mother, but there was only just a hint of those lessons coming through. To me, the story was about an angry little kid who is wild and rambunctious, who was punished without dinner, and then without learning a lesson or apologizing, still gets his dinner anyway, even after playing out his fantasies of ruling over everything. I guess I can see why children might enjoy this story, but to me, I don’t see as much value in this as I had hoped.
I hate to give this such a low rating, but this is how I feel. Luckily, the inventive illustrations gave it a little boost. If I ever have a child, I’m not sure I’ll read this to him or her. I wish I had liked this more.