Analysis of a Picture Book--Where the Wild Things Are Essay

1296 Words Oct 31st, 2011 6 Pages

Written and Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

Picture books can have a very important role in a classroom, from elementary school through middle and even high school. They offer a valuable literary experience by combining the visual and the text. Maurice Sendak’s Caldecott Award winning book, Where the Wild Things Are, is a wonderful blend of detailed illustrations and text in which a young boy, Max, lets his angry emotions create a fantasy world.

Many fantasy books open with “Once upon a time…” Sendak, instead opens this book with the declarative statement, “The night Max wore his wolf suit…” In starting the story this way, he makes the reader believe what is going to happen.
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Max, however, is sitting on a stool in a tent. It is evident from the text that he realizes that his adventure with the wild things is over and it is time for him to go back home to where someone loves him most of all. He “smelled the good things to eat so he gave up being king of where the wild things are.” At this point, the illustrations, and Max’s world, begin to grow smaller. He returns to his room, however, it is not as small as it was at the beginning of the book.

When he returns to the comfort of his own room, his supper is waiting for him, still hot. This indicates to the reader that the adventure may have taken place in only a moment or two, contrary to Max’s words that he “sailed off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year…” This is one illustration where time and distance are mixed up. Another example of this is the moon in the illustrations as it goes through different phases throughout the book, starting out as a waning crescent and growing to a full moon. It is unclear what the moon represents…it could be an indication of the time the journey took. Or, it could represent the fact that Max has grown and become “enlightened” on his journey; he sees his world as a better place at the end of the book.

When the book was published in 1963, Sendak’s illustrations were unlike many others of the time. He used tiny ink lines to show the hairs on the

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