Opinion, Berkeley Blogs

Where the Wild Things Are

By Peter Hanff

Maurice Sendak's drawings are filled with humor, sweetness, and hope. They have a quality that draws readers of all ages into the visual worlds he has created. I have watched very young children pore over his illustrations with as much attention as I have done as an adult. The "ferocity" of his creatures is, of course, mitigated by their---admittedly toothy---smiles. And what reader, young or old, can't identify with the conspiracy of mischief Max perpetrates? For me, Max functions as every-child, much as Dorothy did in the original and innovative Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900. When the child character doesn't cringe in fear at strange and wonderful creatures, I suspect most readers won't either. Part of the appeal of Maurice Sendak's books is that kind of magical understanding. We are invited to join the adventure, and we do so with enthusiasm.