Sunday, August 06, 2006

Where the Wild Things Are

If you're in Melbourne, head over to the Australian Jewish Museum, I know I will be. I love Maurice Sendak, looking at Where the Wild Things Are is like looking through a portal directly into my childhood. And now Fred's childhood too. On a few pages of her copy of Where the Wild Things Are (funnily enough only on the pages where Max is making mischief), she has scribbled with black texta and part of our reading experience is now a very serious discussion about drawing on books. It was an early lesson in permanence - when we used to open the book, she would see her marks of transgression and cry for me to fix it. At first I was so sad about the defacement myself, now I it has become part of my - and Fred's - personal history of the book and those black marks belong as much to the book as any other illustration within it.
Wild Things is being made into an animated film too, written and directed by Spike Jonze (of Being John Malcovich fame). (Edited to say that I think it's actually going to be a live action film).
A page by page analysis of Wild Things, including some images of the darned cutest dummy books ever (I'd sell my right thumb for one).
A Wild Things lesson plan including a suggested art activity which we might try ourselves - sticking googly eyes to a page and drawing a wild thing around them.

We also love: The Night Kitchen (Fred's favourite), Pierre, and Alligators All Around. We used to have this audio recording but, in another act of transgression, Fred unthreaded it when she was about 18 months old and she had so much fun I didn't have the heart to stop her. But I must get it again, it's a fantastic recording, Tammy Grimes is perfect.

What I love about Maurice Sendak is he writes about very powerful children who are masters of their own world. This to me is why Where the Wild Things Are or The Night Kitchen aren't actually scary, despite the nightmarish qualities. The kids have agency, they have choice, they are interested, exploratory, engaged. They drive their own stories in exactly the way you know some kids would drive given the chance, clutching the wheel, glee on their faces, heads thrown back.

Where the Wild Things Are: Maurice Sendak in his Own Words and Pictures is at the Jewish Museum of Australia, 26 Alma Road, St Kilda, until October 29. Inquiries: (03) 9534 0083.


  1. Anonymous9:03 PM

    Really I'm just commenting BECAUSE I CAN now... I didn't have a Maurice Sendak childhood (though he is totally and unquestionably admirable, he just doesn't touch me in that special childhood way -- funny that)

    Ruby is sooo cute -- yay for more girls for the Girls' Club!! Congrats to all involved.

    see ya soon,
    Kate C

  2. Where the Wild Things Are was one of my favourite books. Damn this Bass Strait keeping me from re-entering my childhood.

  3. Oh why is it on now, when I am back in the Mother Country???? Not fair!!!

    I was definitely a Night Kitchen girl, I loved that book, and whenever I make bread, I have Sendak's images in my head as I make the dough.

    Why have I never been to the Australian Jewish Museum??? I went to the Jewish Museum in Amsterdam and cried my way around it. I did a lot of crying in Amsterdam

  4. Yeah, nice one. I meant to post about this on my blog too. Can't wait to make some time to go and see it. I also loved Some Swell Pup, cos it showed wee and poo. Keepin' it real, yeaaah.