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Julian Meynell's Books

I like Books.

Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak This book is in my opinion the best picture book that has ever been written. A lot of the reviews of this book approach it by criticizing its moral message. The book fundamentally does not have a moral message and is not a book that is aimed at improving children. I think its interesting that people cannot understand that a children's book cannot be a moral lesson, but instead a work of art, where the art is meant to be accessible to children. Where The Wild Things Are is the best example of that.

Where the Wild Things Are is an emotional journey. The art and text are perfectly fused in that journey. The art slowly grows from a small box, until it consumes both sides of the page and excludes the taxt. It then slowly shrinks back to nothingnes. The books writing is really more poetry than prose because it has such rythmic powers. Phrases are often repeatedly as a kind of magical incantation.

The book expresses feelings of rebelliousness, the need for a child to be able to build an independent identity and to control there own life. But also to have comfort and safety and love. The book moves from an act of rebellion by Max to his being punished. He then through a fantastic journey goes to "where the wild things are" and tames them through "the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once." He then becomes king of the wild things has a wild rumpus and then returns to the comfort of "his very own room". It is a psychological journey that directly addresses a child's separation and identity fears and needs.

It is so well done that it can speak to adults just as deeply as to children. The whole thing is a brilliant and beautiful book and the height of children's picture book literature. It also shows that picture books do not have to be about teaching children to be good or about their ABCs, but about the real emotional issues that even very small children wrestle with and that it can be approached through art.

There should be more of this kind of thing and the fact that there isn't is a reflection of the fact that picture books are generally written for what parents what their children to be and not what they actually are.

A work of genius in every possible sense.