Max Et Les Maximontres

Speaking of children’s classics, I know you are all familiar with Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.

As part of a second grade unit on Maurice Sendak last week, I read Where the Wild Things Are aloud seven times, to seven different classes, and was reminded again of how much kids love this book. When I pull this book out, the kids go insane (in a good, albeit loud, way).

Bart loves this book too – early on in our dating, it came up that this is one of his favorite books of all time.

I like it as well – I think the story is sweet and funny, the illustrations are gorgeous, and I particularly love the balance between image and white space and how the white text part is edged out until there is nothing but image during the wild rumpus, after which the pictures begin to shrink back down to their original size and eventually disappear.

And yet, surprisingly, it’s a book I wasn’t really introduced to until I was an adult.

Oh, we had the book growing up.

But it was in French. My dad served an LDS mission in Paris and speaks French, so I’m guessing the book was a gift from his parents.

All growing up, I had absolutely no idea what the story line was. I’d seen the pictures here and there, but when you can’t read the book, it’s not all that motivating to pick it up.

I had absolutely no idea about Max’s threat to his mother, his banishment to his room, or his escape to where the wild things are. I had no idea that when he got home, to where someone loved him best, his supper was still hot.

It was a strange thing, to be 22 years old, and to flip open this book that had very familiar pictures, but have no idea what the story was.

And I can’t stop thinking about how different the experience of reading a book for the first time is when you are an adult than when you’ve known the book since before you can remember. I was less into the wild rumpus than a kid probably is, and more likely to be teary at the idea of Max missing his mother and sailing home to find his dinner waiting for him.

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  • Reply Jenny October 27, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I love it.
    Tres sweet.

  • Reply Lisa October 27, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    I read it in English as a child and while I like it, and bought it for my own children, I am not a rabid fan. I do NOT want to see the movie. And I never noticed that picture/white space thing and now need to go find our copy.

  • Reply Packrat October 27, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    This book was at school, but I don't remember the kids going crazy over it. Actually, I haven't read it, so I *know* the school kids didn't read it. Guess I'll check it out. 🙂

  • Reply Landen October 27, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Funny that you mention that, I just was talking about that the other day to someone. I had no idea what the story line was either:) Now, I might understand it, but that is after 4 semesters of French class.

  • Reply Tara October 27, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I've heard of this book, but have never read it. I'm the 2nd hold at the library. I'm curious if I should bring Austin to the movie or if would be too scary. How can they make a whole movie based on a childrens book?

  • Reply Janelle October 27, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    My father served in France as well, and had several children's books (mostly Asterix and Obelix), but we would make him "read" (translate) them for us.

    And I LOVE Where the Wild Things Are and am super surprised at all of you who missed out on it as children!

  • Reply melissa @ 1lbr October 27, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    I feel almost a bit sad when I discover fabulous children's books when I'm an adult. I feel like I missed out on something I would have adored. I'm just reading the Betsy-Tacy books and they aren't nearly as awesome as if I'd read them as a kid.

  • Reply Merrick October 27, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Same here…still never read the english version…

  • Reply Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Well, Mama didn't care for the illustrations. Plus it struck me as more of a boy's book. And it was too popular. Three strikes, you're out.

    Tara: All the reviews (that I trust) have said the movie is NOT for children under about 8. WAY too scary.


  • Reply pintosbeans October 27, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Totally random blog stalker moment:

    So, I know Dani D. Rowan pretty well.

    And I moved from Boston in May 2008 where I was getting my Masters at BU.

    Did I miss you? Are you Mormon? If so, what ward did you go to or are you going to?

    …No pressure to answer any of these questions. I just like making Boston connections when I can. I miss those brick sidewalks all the time (except when wearing heels).

  • Reply Amy Sorensen October 28, 2009 at 12:48 am

    I think I have read this book 1,947 times, at least, to my kids. And it has NEVER gotten annoying. (Some picture books get annoying after you've read them once, you know?)

    I was thinking today about people who will read the book for the first time AFTER they see the movie. It is such a short, spare book, relying on your own knowledge to make up some of the back story, I think it would feel like…well, like a really weird book if you read it second.

  • Reply Alison Stewart October 28, 2009 at 2:36 am

    I am ashamed to say that I have never read it. As I write this, I am now going to go upstairs and see if we own it. You've told me more about it than I knew….and I have seen the movie previews wondering what it was about! At 39 years old, it will be interesting to see what I think.

  • Reply Science Teacher Mommy October 28, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Each day I live with Max. Never more than one. Exactly one. And my three rambunctious they take turns deciding who will take the role of Max.

    And no matter who decides to play the difficult role of Max that day, I am the one who loves him best and his supper is always hot.

  • Reply Peaceful Reader November 2, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    I'm glad you've now read it several times and your observations about the book are right on! Sendak does a wonderful job of making the pictures grow and shrink. Now-are you going to go see the movie??

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