Newest Review: ... you enter any bookshop/browse an internet site you will see this book in a collection generally for 3-5 year olds. Now I have read this ... more
Will you and your child be 'eating up' this book??
Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak
Member Name: joclark84
Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak
Date: 07/08/12, updated on 11/08/12 (18 review reads)
Advantages: A great book with exquisite pictures
Disadvantages: It's not being shared with a wide enough age range of children
I'm sure most of you have heard of this book and generally with it the words 'classic' and 'all time favourite' are used. My review does not use these words because although I love this book I don't believe many of the children who it is read to really understand it or engage with it in the way they do other 'classics'. Popularity has increased since the recent film (which I have to admit I haven't seen) and this maybe helping the books popularity with children but generally I feel it is aimed at children who are too young to really grasp all the book has to offer.
Now before I make a lot of fans angry, I don't dislike this book. The book has stood the test of time, having been written and published over 50 years ago by the acclaimed author Maurice Sendak. My issues with this book are if you enter any bookshop/browse an internet site you will see this book in a collection generally for 3-5 year olds. Now I have read this book to many 6 year olds and I have to admit to you that they rarely understand the book. This is not to say they don't enjoy having the story read to them and that this should not continue as every child is different but I feel the majority of children are just too young to understand the depths of this book. When I have questioned children about it they struggle to see past the story of a boy running away and meeting monsters. They are also quite confused about how he gets back from the land where the Wild Things are and it takes a lot of discussion (which isn't a bad thing) for young children to even begin to grasp what is happening.
For those of you who are not aware of the book, it is the story of Max, a boy, who dressed in his wolf suit, causes mischief and mayhem around his house to the point where his mum calls him a 'Wild Thing'. This leads to Max getting angry and telling his mother 'i'll eat you up'. As a result Max is sent to bed. In his room Max uses his imagination to go into a fantasy world of Wild Things. Here he is made a king because of his unruly behaviour. The book ends with Max smelling his dinner and being returned to the real world and to where he is loved.
Now I am not denying that this isn't a great picture book but my main concern is that it is not directed at the right aged children. Picture books have a stigma attached to them that they are for young children and this view is wrong. If your child is at a stage where they are reading chapter books, this is no need to stop reading and SHARING picture books. This is the great thing about picture books they can be shared and discussed more thoroughly than chapter books. This is a great example of a picture book that would be much better shared with children 6+ as although short this book has hidden depths. Also Max is definitely a character lots of children can relate to due to his angry streak.
The illustrations in this book are exquisite, completed by Maurice Sendak himself. They have elements of humour, beauty and at times can be quite scary. Spending time discussing what is happening in the pictures is half of the appeal of this book.
To summarise, this is a quality book but I just don't feel that children are getting the most out of this book as it is only being shared with younger children and not those who are old enough to really appreciate it. If you read it to younger children be prepared to spend time discussing this book (which I would recommend with everything you read with your child).
Summary: A great book to really engage 6 years+ in picture books
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