Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Max is a young boy with a wolf suit and vivid imagination. When he acts up a bit too much, his mother calls him a "wild thing". After he talks back to her, she sends him to his room without any supper. But once there, Max imagines that he is transported to a land where the "Wild Things" live and this is where his adventures begin.
One of the things that make this book so nice is that its illustrations are vibrant and evocative, while not straying from simple pen and ink simplicity. Sendak's use of colors is what gives us the most here, while the reality parts are in more muted pinks, grays and pale yellows, the fantasy parts are in more lively shades with blues and greens dominating the backgrounds combined with bolder oranges, browns and reds injected into the strange creatures that Max encounters. What's more is that these pictures almost completely fill up the pages (with only small areas set aside for the text). This means that when you read the story to your children, they will be focused on the myriad of activities going on in the illustrations and not distracted by the text on the page. Because of this, we have a story that is best read to children who aren't yet interested in reading. Of course, this doesn't mean that slightly older children who learn to read will stop enjoying this book.
But the real beauty of this book is its text. The language is simple, but not unsophisticated. What's more, the sparse text, while telling the story in full, still allows for children to get involved in the pictures while engaging their own imaginations. Of course a children's book without a lesson is a boring book indeed, and this book has a moral to it – that is: "sure it's fun and okay to build yourself a fantasy world, but eventually you do have to come back to the real one". This was Sendak's subliminal message, and a very nice one it is. What's more, Sendak has Max figure this out by himself, rather than having an adult or any other outsider try to influence him.
One reviewer of this book said "… this book deals not only with fantasy worlds but also with the emotional reality of a [tantrum], angry toddler/small child who is often terrified of his/her own emotions. ... While the fantasy sections allow for both explorations of the wildness inside as well as [a] reality check ..." That reviewer also noted that this book includes a reassurance of parental love, which is an essential part of discipline. As a parent, we need to make sure that our punishments do not allow for our children to equate them to a loss of love towards them on our part, and this book strikes this balance perfectly.
All in all, this is simply a lovely book, with beautiful illustrations and a smooth and easy text. My kids found this combination of interesting text and endearing drawings to be totally fascinating and almost intoxicating. No wonder they loved hearing it over and over again, and no wonder I never thought twice to read it to them as often as they wanted. To this day I know this story by heart, partially because my kids adored hearing this story and partially because I loved reading this story to my kids. Therefore, there is no other rating possible for this book than a full FIVE stars and I will always highly recommend it to any parent or grandparent or just anyone who is still a kid at heart. An absolute MUST buy for every library!
"Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak is available from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, iTunes audiobooks, The Book Depository (free worldwide delivery), new or used from Alibris or Better World Books as well as from an IndieBound store near you. For non-English speakers, you can even get this in any of the 28 languages it's been translated into. In fact, the version I memorized is in Hebrew! This review is a version of the one that originally appeared on Dooyoo under my user-name TheChocolateLady.