Lisa Miller, Staff Reporter
May 16, 2012
I was sad to read in the newspaper that Maurice Sendak had died on May 8. He wrote and illustrated “Where the Wild Things Are,” among many other wonderful children’s books.
I read his books when I was a child, and I read his books to my kids when they were younger. “Where the Wild Things Are” was everyone’s favorite story, and as a mom I learned to appreciate it in new ways.
Max wasn’t just a little boy working through his troubles, he could have been my own child; times two. I lost count of the days my sons spent tearing around the house and yard, wild-eyed and filthy, playing in the dirt, throwing rocks, romping with our dogs, climbing trees and fences and screaming their guts out for no reason at all. All my boys needed were wolf pelts tied around their shoulders and fangs to sink into their lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The wildness reached a peak the day my bedroom window shattered.
I was in the kitchen washing lunch dishes. My sons were in the backyard batting whiffle balls around with plastic bats. I heard them heckling each other when one of them swung the bat and hit nothing but air.
And then I heard “Get it! Get it!” followed by the sound of glass shattering in my bedroom on the other side of the house. I raced down the hallway and into my bedroom, gasping when I saw the now empty window frame.
My sons had disappeared. Later, the boys said there had been wasps flitting around the window and they were trying to see who could smash the most wasps with the bats. The ancient, single-paned window glass didn’t stand a chance. But my sons did have the good sense to look a little sorry about the mess.
When I read my sons the story of Max floating away in his boat to escape from his room and his punishment for being so wild, I knew my boys could relate to the adventure.
They smiled and their eyes twinkled with delight when Max hollered and romped with the beasts. Both boys roared and acted out their favorite parts, stopping me and making me re-read a page if I didn’t “do the voices right.”
Every character in the story had a special voice. That’s what Sendak did for kids – he gave them their own voices in the stories, and gave children stories that told the truth about life.