Maurice Sendak, illustrator and author of children’s book ‘where the wild things are’ has died! This was one of my favorite childhood books, and now I read it to my daughter’s to which my youngest says “I am a wild thing.” It was ground breaking for the mid-century because of the dark content. ‘Please don’t go, we’ll eat you up, we love you so.’ Until this book was published children’s books were light, fluffy and always depicted sweet, cheeky characters. His book is now praised for moving the children’s books genre beyond silly pictures and rhymes. He captured a message that was real and honest which was to face your fears and one must make tough choices to find their way home.
Sendak said in an interview, “Children are willing to expose themselves to experiences. We aren’t. Grownups always say they protect their children, but they’re really protecting themselves. Besides, you can’t protect children. They know everything. Children drift in and out of fantasy, teaching adults to dream and imagine.”
I adore the end of the story when Max travels by boat in and out weeks to the safety of his bedroom with a meal waiting for him. I hope my children always feel the safety net of their childhood home and cherish the memories created. I hope more than this, they take great risks and learn about life through loss, connection, loneliness and love. These are the themes that give our lives gravity so we can learn and grow.