Sunday, March 2, 2014

SpReAd The Love Book Challenge: Eighth Post! Where the Wild Things Are

This post is part of the SpReAd The Love Children's Book Challenge. Clicking the link will take you to more information about it and if you'd like to participate please email me at funkybluedelphinium at gmail dot com.
When I was a kid I had epilepsy. Because of this, one of the central dramas of childhood -- mastering big emotions -- was amplified for me. Stress and emotional upset can trigger seizures and certain types of seizures (Temporal Lobe episodes, for example) can manifest as sudden storms of emotion. Figuring out if I was upset because of a fight with my best friend or if there was an excess of electrical activity in my brain was an important life skill but learning to get a grip on it was for a long time out of my reach.

When I was eight years old a local artist painted a mural of characters from children's books on a wall at our town's library and while I recognized Peter Pan, Wendy, Alice, Dorothy and Scarecrow there was one character I'd never seen before: a little boy wearing a wolf suit and crown in a red boat with Max painted on the side. I asked the librarian who he was and she went and found the book for me.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak was published in 1963. It's the story of Max, who has a tantrum and is sent to his room. An amazing thing happens in Max's room when he's alone: it becomes a jungle and an ocean and by sailing across the ocean in his little red boat he comes to the place where the wild things are. At first the wild things snarl and claw and gnash their teeth at him but Max subdues them by looking them right in the eyes. How cool is that? He doesn't hide from them; he looks at them without flinching. They crown him king and throw a great rumpus to celebrate. Eventually, Max decides to go home and leaves the wild things behind, for now.

There's a lot of wisdom in Max's approach to his wild things. I certainly still have some, those things inside that snarl and claw every once in a while, and I've found that what Max did -- looking them in the eyes -- is essential in quieting them. It's a lesson that I'm passing on by donating a copy of Where the Wild Things Are to the library on the Pediatric Floor of the hospital where I was treated many times.


  1. Wow, that must have been hard to deal with. I don't even know that 45: are my emotions real?

    It's neat how many children's books are about facing one's fears and deciding to act. Wrinkle in Time had that, as well. maybe that is why they still appeal to us as adults.

    thanks for spReAding the love -- you are doing such a wonderful job with this and I am grateful.

    1. Thanks so much for participating in it, you and everyone else because without you all this wouldn't have gone so well. :) We're both grateful for all of you.

  2. I didn't grow up with this story but raising kids here I sought out popular childrens stories. Funny enough I think I've taken more to some of these stories than my kids have :) I particularly adore the audio version of this story narrated by Maurice himself. I consider myself lucky I managed to find a copy (book & tape) still working. I can't remember now if I ever managed to find it on cd. I also love in the night kitchen again done by him. Books on tape became helpful for my oldest as learning to read didn't go straightforward like typical children. The please touch museum in Philly used to have a body section dedicated to Sendak, I don't think they included it when they moved location a couple of years ago.

    1. I love him. I'm actually looking at a copy of 'The Sign on Rosie's Door' on the dining room table right now. :)


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