Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Where the Wild Things Are: A Scary Bit of Children's Lit.

I love the imaginative element of this classic storybook by Maurice Sendak. Max is sent to his room without supper after acting like a "wild thing" and threatening to eat up his mother. Once in his room, though, his punishment becomes a foray into a young child's imagination. The walls become the world all around and vines hang down from the ceiling. Max steps into a private boat and sails off over days, weeks and years to the place where the wild things are.

Faced with these wild creatures with terrible claws and terrible roars, Max tames them by staring into their yellow eyes without blinking once. The wild things crown him King of All Wild Things and the wild rumpus begins. (This is where my children jump up from the couch and start dancing and marching around the room like wild things.)

Many times this year I have suggested we read this book, but our four-year-old consistently declined, "No...I don't like that book." And I'd think what's not to like?! I LOVE this book! Then I figured it out: It's too scary for him.

I tend to be a bit dramatic when I read, using voices and facial expressions to make stories come alive for the kids. [Back in B.C. times (Before Children), I was very involved in theater...I love to act and sing. Now my only outlet is storytime!] They usually love it, but it was probably a bit much for this story. I don't think they liked seeing Mommy become a wild thing! Now when I read this story, I leave the acting to the kids, and they like it a whole lot more when I just read it straight.

Our son turns five this week, and he is having his first birthday party with friends. And you know how I love a theme party (especially book themes!). I just finished his Max suit, complete with long, furry tail. His party starts at dusk with a boat ride across the lake to look for wild things. Then we'll have a wild rumpus around a bonfire on the beach. The kids will be invited to wear some wild things like animal print tails and scarves and decorate wild masks. Hopefully we won't traumatize any small children...I'll let you know how it goes!