Newsletter, Volume 14, Number 6
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This newsletter contains an article on using Where the Wild Things Are with all ages. The current movie based on the title makes this a good time to revisit this much loved classic and to take it to another level. It contains great discussion starters for fantasy versus reality in literature, foreshadowing, censorship, illustration styles and our inner psychological world of anger.
There is also a companion article about the life of Maurice Sendak and his work.
I want to mention a great short video of Nancie Atwell's (author of In The Middle) comments about a New York Times article on student selected reading in the classroom. I think her statements are particularly well put and may help you with defending your own reading program if it's under attack.
You can view it here.
Where the Wild Things Are
Sendak, Maurice. (HarperCollins, 1988. ISBN 9780060254926. Order Info.) Picture Book. 48 pages. Grades PreK-12.
This classic picture book has delighted generations of children while jangling the nerves of some less intrepid adults and children. With a perfect marriage of text and illustration, Sendak propels us and Max from his home where he and his mother shout with rage at each other across time and place to where the wild things are.
In the opening scenes Max wears his wolf suit and creates havoc. His angry mother yells at him and he yells back whereupon he is sent to bed without his supper. His room is transformed into a magic forest and Max sets off in his very own boat to the land of the wild things.
Once there he tames the monsters by staring into their yellow eyes without blinking. Knowing they have met their master, they acclaim Max King of all wild things and celebrate their wildness together. When Max decides to return to where someone loves him best of all, the wild things try all their wiles to persuade him to stay, but he sails back into the warmth of his own room. Read the rest of the article.
Perhaps more than any other author/illustrator, Maurice Sendak is responsible for the attention and respect currently given children's literature. Although much of his work is unsettling, even disturbing, it opened up new vistas for the field. Viewing each of his books as a work of art in and of itself, Sendak is less interested in writing specifically "for children" than he is in using this form as self-expression. He has identified the theme in his books as being, "how kids get through a day, how they survive tedium, boredom, how they cope with anger, frustration".
Sendak changed the look of books for young children and became an indelible part of American popular culture. When Where the Wild Things Are was published in 1963, Sendak's monsters were often considered much too frightening for children. Today children are apt to take stuffed likenesses of these creatures to bed with them. Read the rest of the article.
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