Max is acting like a wild thing, and when he disrespects his mother he gets sent to bed without supper. His bedroom walls change into a forest and soon Max finds himself in the place where the wild things are. Max enjoys being king of the wild things, but is it better than being with people who love him?
Sendak's classic illustrations are big and fanciful, with heavy crosshatching giving it a textured look. The monsters are somewhat frightening, and are the reason this book was initially banned by a number of libraries. Sendak modeled his wild things after grotesque drawings he used to make of his relatives. The dark color pallete and the pictures that get bigger and then smaller contribute to the dark feelings in Max's mind and imagination.
Where the Wild Things Are is a story about anger. Max is sent to his room and retreats in his imagination to a world where he is a wild thing, and he rules them all. But anger is lonely, and when he lets go of his anger he finds that his mother has brought him supper. It's under this display of love that Max finally relents and takes off his wolf suit.
Children are going to be angry. They're going to be agressive and throw tantrums. Though Max's mother's parenting techniques can perhaps be argued with, the principle remains. Sometimes, unconditional love can melt an angry heart. And though being king of the wild things can seem satisfying, it's still not as good as being home where there is love and hot supper.
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here.
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