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Let the Wild Rumpus Start!

May 9, 2012

A final note to you, Maurice Sendak, before you pass over to the great beyond.

Thank you.

Thank you for the nightmares, ol’ buddy.

Thank you for scaring the crap out of me.

Thank you for drawing the most frightening creatures I had ever before seen on a page.

Particularly this guy:

Who looked like a cross between Jesus and Grendel.  With maybe a hint of my hippie uncle Gary.

Way back then, I didn’t like boys.  I didn’t like monsters.

And I especially didn’t like boys pretending to be monsters.

But I liked books.  And I loved your book.

I loved that you got me, that you got kids.

Because even at age five, I knew better.  Even I knew we were not Dick and Jane.  We were not snips and snails and puppy dog tails.  We were not sugar and spice.

Unless you threw all of those into a bass-o-matic blender.  And then poured ’em over ice.   On a good day.  Then yes.  We were that.

We could be lovable, but we could be unlovable.  We could be wicked.

And I knew a thing or two about being wicked.

“…roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws…”

Max chased his dog with a fork.

I shut my cat in a laundry hamper.  And then rolled her down the stairs.

(Though I’ll stand firm that I showed her a good time, that she said “Wheeeee!” all the way down.)

And sometimes when I got mad, I wanted to sail away and be called the most wild thing of all.  But only if I got to wear the crown.  And only if the monsters wore barrettes in their hair.  And only if the monsters would pretend to be unicorns once in a while.

Max’s way was better.  Max’s way was “healthy.”  Why not grow a forest in your room?  Why not sail off to where the wild things are?  That’s the way to go.

My way was to throw Legos against the door, throw my clothes onto the floor, turn my radio up full blast . . . and then nap.

I could’ve used a wild rumpus or two.

I hope you’re off to a wild rumpus or two.

I hope you’ll find your supper waiting for you.

I hope it’s still hot.

46 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2012 6:17 am

    Great tribute Angie. And I’m glad to know you were wicked, too. Although I did suspect as much.

    • May 9, 2012 6:54 am

      You mean, it’s that obvious, Elyse? Maybe I need to tone it down a bit, tell more stories about when I helped the elderly cross the street and so forth. I might have to make up stuff.

      • May 9, 2012 9:40 am

        Well, that is sort of how you got FP’d that time, isn’t it? You are diabolical, not even just wicked. You are my hero, if in fact, a hero can be significantly younger than the hero-worshiper. Need to Google that.

      • May 10, 2012 7:14 pm

        If you’re talking hero and you’re talking wicked, I assume you’re referring to 1979-Angie. 2012-Angie has no idea what either of those words mean.

      • May 10, 2012 7:31 pm

        Wait a minute. You’re not saying that 2012-Angie is a dork, are you? I would heartily disagree with you on that one, Angie.

      • May 10, 2012 7:35 pm

        Does “dork” include watching PBS documentaries about ancient Greece, being in bed by 10:00 and barely making it to the first commercial break of Saturday Night Live? Then yes. Guilty.

      • May 10, 2012 8:13 pm

        Damn. I am a dork too. I haven’t seen SNL-live for 40 years.

        You know, life doesn’t get easier as you age.

      • May 13, 2012 10:26 am

        That’s okay — it was better 40 years ago. At least I know you may have gotten my bass-o-matic reference here.

  2. May 9, 2012 6:25 am

    Perfect tribute. Many a night I would read that book, drift off to sleep and hope and pray my older brothers would set sail away to where the wild things are and stay there forever so I wouldn’t have to deal with anymore wedgies or noogies or flushed Barbie heads

    • May 9, 2012 6:58 am

      You know, now that you mention it, had I known you could ship off other people to where the wild things are, I might’ve considered putting in an application for my brother.

      Blarg. I just noticed (when I went to see where you are now in the Freshly Pressed line-up) right after I published this that another blog was Freshly Pressed (yesterday?) with a Maurice Sendak post using the same illustration and everything. I feel so completely unoriginal and lame. Oh, well. Tomorrow I think I’ll do a post on Munch’s The Scream.

      • May 9, 2012 9:55 am

        I can’t believe someone beat you to it. It’s almost like the nanosecond someone dies, people blog about it. I’m surprised you didn’t predict this story, Angie.

      • May 10, 2012 7:19 pm

        Me too, Darla. Well, I almost predicted The Family Circus creator Bil Keane’s death. I think he died about five days after I published a blog post completely bashing on his life’s work. Woops.

  3. May 9, 2012 6:41 am

    Your cat did enjoy it. I know it in my bones. The same way my cat enjoyed being dressed in doll clothes. I didn’t even realize Maurice Sendak was still alive until I saw his amazing interview on the Colbert Report. He was awesome. He did get kids.

    • May 9, 2012 7:00 am

      I think our cats probably lived a good hard life. I can just imagine the little feral cats with their faces pushed up against the windows of our childhood homes, wishing they too could be stripped of all dignity.

      I’ll have to look for that Colbert Report.

      • MOM permalink
        May 9, 2012 8:33 pm

        Your cat did live a good long life. . . long after you moved out, she died at the grand old age of 20. Guess you weren’t too hard on her.

      • May 10, 2012 7:15 pm

        I think my laundry hamper workouts were likely what kept her young.

  4. May 9, 2012 6:45 am

    I’m not entirely sure I read that book until I was an adult…before kids. Unless it just scared the crap out of me and I erased it from my memory. But I loved it immediately when I did. And I love when an author just gets it. Your poor cat, dear. My dog suffered having to wear my clothes, but he did get some treats out of the deal.

    • May 9, 2012 7:02 am

      I would add Beverly Cleary to the list of authors who really understood us kids. I used to read Ramona Quimby and swear she was a real kid. I couldn’t believe it when I found out she was just a figment of Cleary’s imagination.

      My cat never wore clothes. I believed she was already wearing a fur tank top and culottes.

  5. May 9, 2012 7:11 am

    This book was still new when I was a kid, and apparently it was controvesial at that time, as hard as that is to believe when we consider what kids are exposed to now. I don’t think I saw it until I found it in the school library on my own so I was probably a little older when I read it. There was something a little rebellious about reading it. I remember re-finding it in the school library when my own kids were little, and still pausing to take it out for them. It was a funny moment, because I felt myself pause as if I had just uncovered mold in the shelves (the scary mold that makes us sick and costs billions to remove) I stood there flipping through it, trying to decide what the apprehension was about, then took it home to the kids who loved it. I volunteered in that library for 10 years and that book remains very popular which speaks to its authenticity in the eyes of children.

    • May 10, 2012 7:21 pm

      Yes, I did hear it was controversial. Hard to believe in the times we live in now. I love comparing a potentially “dangerous” children’s book to mold. I totally get that.

      I have never heard of a kid who didn’t like it. I’ve heard of plenty of adults who didn’t, but not kids.

  6. Tony permalink
    May 9, 2012 8:23 am

    I love this book, my kids love it, and bought it for the children of a friend. He thought it was the stupidest book ever and didn’t understand why his boys wanted it read to them over and over again. I’ve never known a child who didn’t love this book.

    • May 10, 2012 7:22 pm

      And he’s still your friend? What the heck, bro? ;)

      Funny, I just stated your last sentence verbatim (above).

  7. May 9, 2012 8:29 am

    Sendak was true-blue. The real deal. And he stayed that way, too.

    • May 10, 2012 7:23 pm

      I just read an article about Judy Blume who got to know him and considered him a great influence. She quoted him as saying that you don’t have to have kids to write children’s books. You do have to remember your own childhood. I love that! He totally got it.

  8. May 9, 2012 9:16 am

    This morning, on Twitter, I confessed I had never read ‘Where the Wild Things Are’. An ex-boyfriend gave me a stuffed monster from the book for my birthday once. I did not have the heart to say I had not read the story.
    For me, I like Sendak’s Little Bear books. He was more than “Wild Things”. So very much more.
    Your tribute is excellent, Angie.

    • May 10, 2012 7:25 pm

      I always forget about the Little Bear books. What a pity. A library trip is in order this weekend, I believe. I did like them and I didn’t even know as a kid that he was the one who wrote them.

  9. May 9, 2012 9:34 am

    A wonderful post, Angie! For some reason as a kid I never was drawn to this book (I know! I read everything back then!), but I think it was because the pictures/imagery were so powerful I couldn’t hack it!

    • May 10, 2012 7:26 pm

      I remember being very scared of the book and yet drawn to it. But I didn’t always want to look at the pictures. I probably couldn’t hack it, considering I’m the kid who couldn’t hack a 3rd grade field trip to see a hanging site.

  10. May 9, 2012 10:02 am

    I loved his books, especially the Little Bear books Lenore mentioned, but I remember reading them to my little sisters and brothers. Lovely tribute, Angie, and THIS should have been Freshly Pressed instead of the copycat.

    • May 10, 2012 7:28 pm

      He’s the copycat? What a friend you are, Peg! You’re the best kind in fact. You’re the kind who remembers the truth differently in order to make your friend feel better. I really respect that.

  11. Running from Hell with El permalink
    May 9, 2012 11:32 am

    Lovely tribute. His writing was pure magic to me, both as a child, and now as a parent. LOL–you really did that to your cat?!! Hilarious!

    • May 10, 2012 7:29 pm

      I did indeed. Poor kitty. My mom reminded me that the kitty lived to be 20. So I guess I must’ve done something right.

      I’m glad you’ve passed along Sendak’s work. It’s amazing how good children’s books never grow stale.

  12. May 9, 2012 1:22 pm

    Outstanding. By the way, how’s tricks?

    • May 10, 2012 7:30 pm

      Wait. “Tricks”? I’m kinda slow tonight (just attended a work function that included wine). Please explain.

  13. steph permalink
    May 9, 2012 8:27 pm

    love it! i think we might have been separated at birth.

    • May 10, 2012 7:32 pm

      Thanks, Steph. I’ve always felt I had a twin. I once thought about going on The Geraldo Rivera Show to search for her. Maybe there’s still time for that? See you soon.

  14. LaVonna permalink
    May 9, 2012 9:19 pm

    I wouldn’t have loved this book when I was young (or older). I’m a very literal person and hate comic books, horror films, Haloween haunted houses sci fi, and any kind of monster! Oh, well, to each his own!

    • May 10, 2012 7:37 pm

      Too bad! Although, I’m totally with you on the haunted houses thing. No thank you.

  15. John-Paul permalink
    May 10, 2012 4:01 am

    Oh. I hadn’t heard. Such a gifted artist. My friend had In the Night Kitchen and I had Wild Things when we were growing up. My daughters have those two and a few more. Sad news.

    • May 10, 2012 7:38 pm

      I know, very sad. Now when Beverly Cleary dies? I will pretty much just plan on staying inside all day, laying in my bed with a box of tissues and weeping.

  16. May 10, 2012 9:01 pm

    This was a very sweet salute to an iconic author. When are you going to write something for NPR Perspectives?

    • May 13, 2012 10:24 am

      Thanks, Les. I like to think of myself as an NPR junkie — but apparently I’m not because I have no idea what NPR Perspectives is. Is it similar to NPR Story Corps where you record your own personal stories?

  17. May 12, 2012 12:45 am

    You are of equal brilliance! Really.

    • May 13, 2012 10:14 am

      C’mon, Worrywart! That’s almost blasphemous of you to say! (But thanks.)

  18. May 13, 2012 12:03 pm

    Seconded. And . . . and . . . *sniffle*

    • May 13, 2012 3:08 pm

      Thanks for reading. I should’ve guessed that someone like you would have been raised on Where the Wild Things Are!

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