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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Where the Wild Things Are, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 43
1. Fusenews: Properly vicious

MinistryofMagic 318x500 Fusenews: Properly viciousThere comes a time when I have so much news for a Fusenews that it paralyzes me and rather than write one up I just let my files accrue more and more schtoof until the vicious circle ends with a massive deletion.  Today some of this stuff will strike you as a bit out of date, but the bulk is pretty darn fun.

  • Anytime I write a post that involves race in some way I gird my loins and prepare for the worst.  The worst did not occur yesterday, however, when I wrote about moments of surprising racism in classic children’s books.  Perhaps everyone was distracted by Jonathan Hunt’s post on The Present Tense.  Now THAT is a hot and heavy discussion!
  • Oh, Cotsen Children’s Library.  Is there anything you can’t do?  Because, to be perfectly frank, I think even the prospect of interviewing Philip Pullman would render me effectively mute.  And then there was that AMAZING piece on the woman who makes Harry Potter miniatures.  Seriously, this is your required reading of the day.
  • Because I love Kalamazoo in all its myriad forms, this caught my eye.  For you Michiganders out there:

In February 2014, 95 youth librarians, youth library workers, and students gathered at Clinton-Macomb Public Library for a truly excellent day of professional development, idea-sharing, networking, and learning, unconference style. In 2015, we’ll gather April 24th at Kalamazoo Public Library. Hosted by Lisa Mulvenna (Clinton-Macomb PL), Anne Clark (Alice and Jack Wirt PL, Bay City), and Andrea Vernola (Kalamazoo PL), the MI KidLib Unconference will feature relevant and engaging sessions decided on by participants at the conference. And as is typical of an Unconference, it’s FREE to attend. Registration begins in January 2015.

Here are the session notes from last year in case you want to see what we learned together. We hope you’ll join us and spread the word to anyone who’s interested in youth services in libraries!

  • If you had told me even two years ago that I would be the de facto mathematics librarian, ideal for moderating events like the Science & Mathematics Panel of Jordan Ellenberg, “Science Bob” Pflugfelder, and Benedict Carey at the Penguin Random House Author Event for NYC Educators, I would have been utterly baffled.  And yet here we are.  Know any teachers in the NYC area?  Because the whole kerschmozzle appears to be free.
  • Things That I Didn’t Know Existed Until Recently: Apparently the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center created a site called BookDragon that seeks to create a site for multicultural children’s literature.  And not just of the Asian Pacific nature either.  It’s a true multicultural site and a fun one to scroll through.  Check it!
  • This came out a while ago so I’m sure you already saw it, but just in case you didn’t, the Marc Tyler Nobleman Kidlit Mashups are nothing short of inspired.

TonyStark 300x216 Fusenews: Properly viciousOh man. Iron Man as a goodnight picture book done in a homemade cut paper style.  Not a real book.  Should be though.  Thanks to Marjorie Ingall for the link.

One of my favorite illustrators, Aaron Zenz, wrote me the following message you would be very wise to read it, oh those amongst ye with an artistic bent.  This art gives light and life and meaning to my day:

We play this game on our second blog every three years or so, and I believe you’ve made note of it in the past.  So I thought I’d let you know this time around also that we’re letting professional illustrators and artists dip into the 8 year archive at Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty to reimagine Z-Kid art once again:http://www.isaacgracelily.blogspot.com/2014/08/8yearcelebration.html

There have been some great kid lit contributors in the past like Nathan Hale, Charise Harper, Jarrett Krosoczka, Renata Liwska, Adam Rex…   And even though the call just went out for this new round, kid lit folks Julie Phillipps and Doug Jones have already hopped on board (both of them have also played all three times!)

Go!  Play!

  • My sister wrote me the other day to ask for a recommendation of a great children’s book about a jellyfish.  I complied then found out why she wanted to know.  I love it when she succeeds in her crazy plans on her blog but truth be told she’s awfully hilarious when she fails.  It’s a Jellyfish in a bottle [FAIL].
  • Daily Image:

It’s nice to have friends who know boats.  Particularly when they start critiquing classic works of children’s literature.  My friend Stefan Driesbach-Williams recently posted this familiar illustration:

MaxBoat 500x373 Fusenews: Properly vicious

Then he wrote, “I’m seeing a cutter with a loose-footed staysail and a boomkin.”

But it was the response from his nautical friends that made my day.  One Levi Austin White responded with the following:

“Aye! Captain Max has only got his smallest storm stays’l aloft like a prudent mariner, although his main looks really drafty and dangerously powered up.

He seems to have his main trimmed in all the way, but headed dead downwind. That seems like a disastrous combination considering his mains’l tuning. I don’t see any reef points on his main though, so perhaps he’s outta luck.

Any news on his journey? Did he survive the storm? The way the seafoam is scudding across the wave tops, I’d say that he’s on the lee shore of a low lying island, with 50-70 kts windspeed. Looks properly vicious.

Best of luck, Captain Max. May the seas be forever in your favor.”

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2 Comments on Fusenews: Properly vicious, last added: 9/28/2014
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2. A Birthday Surprise: 420 Books for Kids

Wendy Moore’s best friends couldn’t wait to give her a special surprise for her 50th birthday. To honor her great love for books, they set up a virtual book drive with First Book and collectively raised over $1200 to purchase brand-new books for kids in Wendy’s hometown of Wilson, NC.

The need for books in Wilson County Schools is high. Located a little over an hour outside of Raleigh, the rural district ranks as Tier One community – a title reserved for the most distressed counties in the state. But Wilson residents like Wendy are committed to their children’s education.

Every year the county hosts a Back-to-School Fair, an event that celebrates education and equips kids with backpacks and school supplies for the upcoming school year.

where the wild things are

Journey received one of the free copies of Where the Wild Things Are at the Wilson County Back-to-School Fair. She said the book is her favorite!

The event draws hundreds of the community’s neediest families, many lining up as early as 10 p.m. the night before the fair in order to receive school supplies.

At this year’s fair, Moore joined staff at the Wilson County Schools booth to distribute the books purchased through First Book with the funds raised by her friends. In less than 90 minutes, all 420 copies of her selected book Where the Wild Things Are were in the hands of excited students.

“Hopefully it will inspire at least one kid to dream and do things that go far,” said Moore.

In your hometown and across the nation, kids need books to foster a love of learning. Click here to find out more about hosting your own virtual book drive.

The post A Birthday Surprise: 420 Books for Kids appeared first on First Book Blog.

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3. Top 100 Picture Books #1: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

#1 Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1963)
533 points

Arguably the single greatest picture book ever created. – Hotspur Closser

Some argue that Sendak did better work than Wild Things during the span of his career and while I agree on some level that this is true, I think his other books appeal to people on different, individual levels. In truth, there has never been a picture book made that has reached so many people on so many levels like Wild Things. I mean, we are all a little mischievous, we are all a little bit adventurous (even if only in our hearts), and we all have a deep longing to be taken care of and fed good things to eat. – Owen Gray

Because it makes my tongue happy to speak lines such as, “And sailed back over a year and out of weeks, and through a day into the night of his very own room.” And because it makes my heart happy to end a story with, “Where he found his supper waiting for him, and it was still hot.” – DaNae Leu

There is no moment in any picture book more perfect than when Max returns to his room and his dinner is still hot. Enough said. – Katie Ahearn

The evolution of picture books can be broken down into two time periods: Pre-Wild Things and Post-Wild Things. Sendak’s 1963 book was that instrumental in ushering in the modern age of picture books. While tackling themes of anger and loneliness, Sendak created one of the few picture books that still seems fresh after decades in print. – Travis Jonker

For me this has to be number 1, not only because it’s a wonderful adventure story for little ones, not only because it demonstrates the power of imagination, not only because love, anger, defiance, and love again are so inextricably intertwined, not only because it’s a amazing example of how an illustrator combines the elements of design so successfully, but because it does all these things in 32 pages and 1200 words, AND children love it! - Diantha McBride

It is what it is, and, it is the best. It reminds you every time you read it why it is the best. You want to read it to every child you love, every child you like, and every child who drives you crazy. - Laura Reed

What is there to say about such a classic? It deserves all the accolades it has gotten through the years. It allows kids to be wild and misbehave and go off to the jungle, but wake up in their very own room and dinner is still warm. A comforting but fun book. - Christine Kelly

You can’t beat how much fun this book is to read. And, amazingly enough, I still have it memorized (even though I don’t think I’ve read it aloud in a couple of years). – Melissa Fox

Classic. When I heard they were going to make a movie out of the book I thought, “What?” Part of what makes this book so special is the wordless page spreads… just wild things making a rumpus… I love that Sendak gives children the power to just absorb those images. Awesome stuff. – DeAnn Okamura

Still perfectly crafted, perfectly illustrated. It doesn’t really matter that Maurice Sendak is sick of the thing, this is simply the epitome of a picture book. Sendak, like Shel Silverstein and Roald Dahl, rises above the rest in part because he is subversive. Max is not a sweet little boy, he’s a crazy little kid like so many are in real life. And yes, the monsters represent his wildness, but that’s boring from a young reader’s standpoint. The fact is, Max gets to go have a monstrous adventure, and then he comes home and finds, not only soup, but a slice of cake. Because p

4 Comments on Top 100 Picture Books #1: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, last added: 7/5/2012
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4. Maurice Sendak


"And when he came to the place where the Wild Things are,
they roared their terrible roars. And gnashed their terrible teeth.
And rolled their terrible eyes. And showed their terrible claws…"


Illustration: m. Albarrán. agendagrafica.blogspot.com



4 Comments on Maurice Sendak, last added: 5/30/2012
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5. Goodnight, Mr. Sendak

"Please don't go. We'll eat you up. We love you so."
from Where the Wild Things Are

It's hard to add anything new to the tributes to Maurice Sendak that have been flowing in since his death on Tuesday, so I'll just let the great one speak for himself. Here are some quotes that especially resonate with me.

"You cannot write for children. They're much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them."

"I believe there's no part of our lives, our adult as well as child life, when we're not fantasizing, but we prefer to relegate fantasy to children, as though it were some tomfoolery only fit for the immature minds of the young. Children do live in fantasy and reality; they move back and forth very easily in a way we no longer remember how to do."

"A woman came up to me the other day and said, 'You're the kiddie-book man.' I wanted to kill her."

"Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children's letters--sometimes very hastily--but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, "Dear Jim: I loved your card." Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, "Jim loved your card so much he ate it." That to me was one of the highest compliments I've ever received. He didn't care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it."

"There must be more to life than having everything."

"I have a little tiny Emily Dickinson so big that I carry in my pocket everywhere. And you just read three poems of Emily. She is so brave. She is so strong. She is such a sexy, passionate, little woman. I feel better."

"I'm not Hans Christian Andersen. Nobody's gonna make a statue in the park with a lot of scrambling kids climbing up me. I won't have it, okay?"

2 Comments on Goodnight, Mr. Sendak, last added: 5/11/2012
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6. Maurice Sendak

I canceled today’s post, because even though you probably have heard of Maurice Sendak passing away yesterday, he really deserves to have it recognized.

Maurice Sendak, widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche, died on Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. He was 83.

Mr. Sendak’s books were essential ingredients of childhood for the generation born after 1960 or thereabouts, and in turn for their children. He was known in particular for more than a dozen picture books he wrote and illustrated himself, most famously “Where the Wild Things Are,” which was simultaneously genre-breaking and career-making when it was published by Harper & Row in 1963.

Among the other titles he wrote and illustrated, all from Harper & Row, are “In the Night Kitchen” (1970) and “Outside Over There” (1981), which together with “Where the Wild Things Are” form a trilogy; “The Sign on Rosie’s Door” (1960); “Higglety Pigglety Pop!” (1967); and “The Nutshell Library” (1962), a boxed set of four tiny volumes comprising “Alligators All Around,” “Chicken Soup With Rice,” “One Was Johnny” and “Pierre.”

In September, a new picture book by Mr. Sendak, “Bumble-Ardy” — the first in 30 years for which he produced both text and illustrations — was issued by HarperCollins Publishers. The book, which spent five weeks on the New York Times children’s best-seller list, tells the not-altogether-lighthearted story of an orphaned pig (his parents are eaten) who gives himself a riotous birthday party.

To rest the rest of the article written by MARGALIT FOX in May 8th New York Times, click the link below:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/books/maurice-sendak-childrens-author-dies-at-83.html

Christina Tugeau’s post: http://catugeau.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/loss/

Mr. Sendak, thank you for your wonderful contribution to children’s books. You will be missed! We all are happy that we can still have a part of you and share your talent with the generations to come.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, bio, News, Uncategorized Tagged: Goodbye, Maurice Sendak, Where The Wild Things Are 9 Comments on Maurice Sendak, last added: 5/10/2012
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7. Sendak Sunday


In a Nutshell: The Worlds of Maurice Sendak, a traveling exhibit, recently came to my local library. Yesterday I went to see it and to hear a talk on how Sendak connects with his Easter European roots. The lecturer put Sendak's work in historical context, showing how Jewish immigrants (such as Sendak's parents) kept one foot in the old world, through memories and by keeping in touch with relatives who remained in Europe.

The exhibit and talk brought home what John Cech, a professor of children's literature and author of a book about Sendak, once said in an interview in the New York Times. "His whole life's work in some way is an attempt to understand and fathom the complexity of that heritage, with its almost unbearable legacy of loss."

Here's a sampling of the fascinating tidbits I discovered:

In Where the Wild Things Are, the spread of the wild rumpus is the only scene in which the monsters take their eyes off Max. Their eyes are fixed on the Moon, that mysterious orb that can change men into wolves and other beasts of the night.

The Lindbergh kidnapping always held a special horror for Sendak. During the time the story was in the news, young Sendak made his father sleep on the floor next to his bed, a baseball bat at the ready. An uncle, hearing this, inquired "Philip, who would want your children?" Sendak took offense at his uncle's remark, and years later took his revenge, turning the man into the ugliest of the monsters in Where the Wild Things Are. Which one was that? He never said.

Sendak based the illustration of the character Atzel in Isaac Bashevis Singer's Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories on a photograph of Sendak's grandfather that once hung in his bedroom. While suffering the effects of scarlet fever as a boy, a delirious Sendak tried to climb into the frame. His mother snatched the photo of her father and, in her fear, tore it up to protect her son. Years later, after his mother had died, Sendak found the torn pieces stuffed into tissue paper and had the photo restored.

1 Comments on Sendak Sunday, last added: 3/13/2012
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8. Video Sunday: “Not after what those kids did to Pop.”

Fun Fact: Remember that Re-Seussification Project I posted?  And how it happened to come out the day before the birthday of the good doctor himself?  Total coincidence.  I had no idea.  At the same time The Lorax has come out in theaters.  Know how I know?  Because every other minute there’s an ad on my television featuring the Lorax.  Seems he’ll sell anything these days.  Chaps my hide.  Chaps Stephen Colbert’s too, I’m happy to report.

Full credit to this next link.  This compilation of Judy Blume pop culture references has earned my respect, partly because it included the two I already knew of (Sawyer reading her book on LOST and the Saturday Night Live skit).  Very fun to watch.

Which, naturally, leads to this.  And I suppose it isn’t workplace appropriate.  But it is sweet.

That was recorded almost half a year ago.  I assume they’ve met by now, yes?  I mean, she is married to a Newbery winner.

I think this is applicable to our usual subject matter today.  After all, I suspect that there are a few authors out there for kids that still use typewriters.  I used one as recently as 2006 in conjunction with my job.  Plus this is a great little piece.

Thanks to Playing By the Book for the link.

I’ve shown the video of Christopher Walken reading The Three Little Pigs before.  This one, though, is new to me.  We never see him who I’m not wholly convinced it’s actually him.  It’s a possibility, though.  A distinct possibility.

Thanks again to Playing By the Book for the link.

And finally, for our off-topic video, what can I say?

Baby otters.

Thanks to Dan McCoy for the link.

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9. Stephen Colbert Pitches Picture Book Idea to Maurice Sendak

The Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert interviewed Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak this week. Follow these links to watch part one and part two of the interview.

According to Shelf Awareness, Colbert “turned [to Sendak] for advice on becoming a celebrity children’s author, pitched his sequel idea for Where the Wild Things Are 2: Still Wildin’ (featuring action star Vin Diesel) and generally let the wild rumpus begin.”

During the interview, some of the “rumpus” that emerged included Sendak’s opinion on the current state of children’s literature; he finds it “abysmal” and thinks that “most books for children are very bad.”

continued…

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10. “No More Adventures in Wonderland”

What am I reading now? The Tree Girl by Darlene Twerdochlib
 

The New York Times‘ Maria Tatar published an article entitled “No More Adventures in Wonderland” on Sunday, October 9, 2011. The premise of the piece is the prevalence of darkness in children’s literature. Tatar contends that “[c]hildren today get an unprecedented dose of adult reality in their books, sometimes without the redemptive beauty, cathartic humor and healing magic of an earlier time.”

My issue with Tatar’s article is not her vehemence against darkness; I made my thoughts clear on the subject with my post Darkness Too Visible. Instead, my issue springs from the books she calls upon to give validity to her argument: J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter, Philip Pullman‘s “His Dark Materials” and Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games. Tatar uses these books to exhibit that “the savagery we offer children today is more unforgiving than it once was … we have stories about children who struggle to survive.” The truth is, these books are detrimental to her argument because they do not fall under the genre of children’s literature. They come under the umbrella of young adult literature.

The book industry is a business like any other and the aforementioned books wouldn’t be published if there wasn’t a market for them. So, perhaps, the issue isn’t the existence of darkness in children’s literature but rather why it is so prevalent in young adult literature.


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11. Fusenews: “Peppa Pig is likely to fall into American hands”

SLJ represent!  Though I could not attend this year’s KidLitCon (the annual conference of children’s and YA bloggers) many others did and they have all posted links to their recaps of the event here.  So while I could not be present, fellow SLJ blogger Liz Burns of Tea Cozy showed up and has a fabulous encapsulation of that which went on.  Lest you label me a lazy lou, I did at least participate in a presentation on apps.  Yes, doing my best Max Headroom imitation (ask you parents, kids) I joined Mary Ann Scheuer and pink haired Paula Wiley.  It went, oddly enough, off without a hitch.  Attendees may have noticed my gigantic floating head (we Skyped) would occasionally dip down so that I seemed to be doing my best Kilroy imitation.  This was because the talk happened during my lunch and I wanted to nosh on some surreptitious grapes as it occurred.  You may read Mary Ann’s recap here and Paula’s here, lest you fail to believe a single word I say.

  • Speaking of Penderwicks, the discussions fly fast and fierce over at Heavy Medal.  To my infinite delight, both Jonathan AND Nina are Penderwick fans.  Wow!  For the record, I agree with their thoughts on Amelia Lost as well.  That book has a better chance at something Newberyish than any other nonfiction this year.  This could well be The Year of Amelias (Jenni Holm has an Amelia book of her own, after all).
  • Heads up, America!  According to an article in The Guardian, “The debt-laden businesses behind some of the biggest names in childrens’ TV and books are selling off some of the nation’s best-loved characters.”  Personally, I figure the Brits can keep their Peppa Pig.  It’s Bagpuss I want.  Or The Clangers.  I grew up watching Pinwheel on Nickelodeon so I’ve an affection for these.  Any word on the current state of King Rollo?
  • Aw yeah.  Authors talking smack about authors.  Granted it’s living authors talking about dead authors (dead authors talking about living authors is a different ballgame entirely) but it’ll stand.  Two dude who write for kids break down J.M. Barrie, The Yearling, etc. and then end with unanimous praise for what I may consider the world’s most perfect children’s book.  Go check ‘em out.
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12. Maurice Sendak Profiled by Dave Eggers

On September 6th, Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak will release Bumble-Ardy. This picture book will be the first publication Sendak has written and illustrated completely on his own since Outside Over There (1981).

Writer Dave Eggers profiled the 83-year-old Sendak for a piece in Vanity Fair (Eggers wrote The Wild Things, a novel loosely based on Where the Wild Things Are). According to the article, Sendak has spent the last three decades illustrating books and designing operas. 

Here’s more from the article: “Like all Sendakian rumpuses, it [Bumble-Ardy] gets out of hand, and for 10 pages we’re treated to the most bizarre tableau of celebrants, all in costume: pigs dressed as monsters, pigs dressed as cowboys and Indians, pigs dressed as old ladies painted garishly. As with any Sendak book, the pictures are full of references and echoes. One pig is reading a newspaper that says, WE READ BANNED BOOKS. A sheriff’s yellow badge calls back to the Warsaw Ghetto. Messages are written in Hebrew, Italian, Russian.” (via The Guardian)

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13. Max at Sea

Missed this at the time, but the New Yorker has a short selection from the Dave Eggers novelisation of Where the Wild Things (written after his work on the screenplay). The story, "Max at Sea," is online here and you can also read an interview with Eggers here. Required reading for both my Children's Writing and my Screenwriting students.

Here's a sampling of what he has to say:

The weird thing is that working within an established story was actually kind of liberating. You know the beginning and middle and end, more or less, so there’s less pressure to figure all that out. So it was a matter of probing deeper into who Max is, what he wants, what his life is like at home and at school. And on the island, looking deeper into who the Wild Things are and what they want from Max, his life as their king, and why he leaves. From the beginning, though, Maurice was clear that he didn’t want the movie or the book to be timid adaptations. He wanted us to feel free to push and pull the original story in new directions.


And, oh my sweet heaven, take a look at this:



Eggers came up with the idea for this special edition, which unlike Margaret Wise Brown's original edition of The Fur Family uses artificial fur.

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14. The Wild Things

wild-things72

I know where I’m going to be on October 16. You’ll find me in a darkened theater with a buttery bag of popcorn and a coke….  but don’t talk to me until after the credits!

I can hardly wait!

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15. Ypulse Essentials: 'Wild Things Week In NYC, New Drama Slated For The CW, Tech-Nots

Where the Wild Things Are? (New York for "Wild Things Week" running cultural, educational and entertainment events in celebration of the premiere. Plus Entertainment Weekly asks what, if any, topics are too explicit for teen fiction) (MediaPost,... Read the rest of this post

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16. Monsters and Wild Things

Stephen T. Asma is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia College Chicago, where he holds the title of Distinguished Scholar.  His newest book, On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst 9780195336160Fears, is a wide-ranging cultural and conceptual history of monsters-how they have evolved over time, what functions they serve, and what shapes they are likely to take in the future.  It is with this monstrous perspective (sorry I know it is an awful pun) that Asma looks at Where the Wild Things Are in honor of its release this weekend.

With hindsight it seems fitting that Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are (1963) first appeared in cultural space somewhere between Elvis Presley and the Beatles. Where the Wild Things Are is a rock’n’roll story, about being misunderstood, rebelling against authority, letting your hair down, and generally indulging in the Dionysian rumpus. It’s not surprising, then, that the new film version (Warner Brothers) is brought to us by skateboarding music-video director Spike Jonze and literary mega-hipster Dave Eggers.

As the movie’s trailer reminds us, “Inside all of us is a wild thing.” And in our therapeutic era, we generally accept that it is good and healthy to visit our wild things –to let them off their chains, let them howl at the moon. You can also taste some of this Romanticism in the recent relish of the Woodstock anniversary, with its celebration of noble primitivism. But the hippy view of “the wild” is quite sunny, whereas Sendak (who lost family during the Holocaust) wanted to acknowledge some of the darker aspects of uncivilized life (even, or especially, through the eyes of a child). Despite these darker notes, however, Where the Wild Things Are still affirms the idea that danger, at least in small doses, is good for you. And this latest fascination with beasties, together with the approach of Halloween, reminds us that we have a love/hate relationship with monsters generally. We are simultaneously attracted and repulsed by them.

Sendak’s monsters are just repulsive enough to be alien, foreign, and mysterious, but they’re also vaguely cute and familiar enough for us to identify with them and recognize our emotional selves in them. Sendak claimed in later interviews that the monsters were based loosely on his boyhood perceptions of his frightening aunts and uncles. Like a distant relation, our uncanny monsters are alien aspects of our own identity –they are parts of who we are, unfamiliar aspects of our psyches. This common way to read monsters –as primitive, uncivilized versions of ourselves –is obvious in Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or the forthcoming Universal Pictures remake The Wolfman, starring Anthony Hopkins and Benicio del Toro. Monster stories have a cathartic function, in the sense that they give our tamed, repressed impulses a brief holiday of Bacchanalian revelry. And after these virtual trips to our own hearts of darkness, we can better return to our everyday social world of compromise, accommodation, and compliance. On this account, the monster story is the favorite genre of our reptilian brains (the real home where the wild things are).

However, every era has its own uses and abuses of monsters. The lesson of Shelley’s Frankenstein, for example, is often taken as a liberal lesson in tolerance: we as a society must not create outcasts, or persecute those who are different. Or consider that the medieval mind was obsessed with giants and mythical creatures as God’s punishments for the sin of pride. And the medieval period also began the Church’s long fascination with demon possession. For the Greeks and Romans, monsters were prodigies –warnings of impending disaster.

Besides the cuddly monsters of Where the Wild Things Are, our present day fascination seems dominated by zombies, vampires, and serial killers. Why are we so entranced by these specific creatures –why do we love to hate them?

Not only are there more zombies around these days, but they seem to be getting faster and more aggressive. Gone are the slow lumbering goons of the George Romero-era zombies, and in their stead we have lightning fast undead predators. Zombies, just like vampires, serial killers and most other monsters are terrifying because you cannot really reason with them. Unlike your other enemies, you cannot appeal to monsters to recognize that you’re a good hearted person, or you’ve got kids, or you really understand their pain, or you only want to understand them in the name of science. They’ll pummel you and eat you anyway. There’s not much common ground, in terms of rationality or emotional solidarity. One suspects there is a link between a decade of American fear of terrorists, and a rise in zombie monsters that do not respond to negotiation.

But zombies also have unique qualities that trigger the dynamic of love/hate, attraction/repulsion. Everybody wants to live forever. That’s a given. If you can’t remember wanting to live forever, then you’re probably a successful and functional adult. But the inner narcissist –the one that thinks he’s God and wants to live forever –is still in you somewhere, buried deep. The zombie, like the vampire, is a kind of immortal: chop his leg off, he’s still coming; blow a hole in his chest, he’s still coming. His life span is indefinite and he’s indestructible. So the little narcissist inside us really likes the immortal aspect of the zombie and the vampire. We unconsciously crave that kind of staying power and durability, but our narcissistic desire to cheat death is impossible to sustain in the face of mature experience. Reality regularly reminds us, as we are growing up, that we will not cheat death. No one actually cheats death. To carry on in the fantasy world of the narcissistic inner-child is impossible given the brute facts of our animal mortality. So the universal urge to live forever must be repressed, as we grow up. This repression means that the desire must be transformed from positive to negative –from something we like, to something disgusting (just like in potty training).

We love to hate zombies because they simultaneously manifest our craving for immortality, and our more mature realization that the flesh always decays. As “living dead,” all zombies elicit those conflicting impulses in our psyche. The more disgusting they are, the more we are reminded of our inevitable decomposition, but the more they keep getting up and chasing, the more we are delighted by the promise of immortality. The psyche seems to carry out an unconscious vacillation: the zombies live on forever, those lucky sods, but wait…they’re disgusting and repellent and…and…run!

Vampires are a much more glamorized and sexualized version of the attraction/repulsion dynamic. From Polidori’s original Vampyre, to Stoker’s Dracula, to today’s teen vampires of Twilight, the blood drinkers are, generally speaking, totally hot. The play of sexual taboos in vampire stories is well appreciated. But in addition to the always titillating presence of neck-kissing and the exchange of bodily fluids, we have to recognize that vampires are romantic monsters. They are incarnations of the irresistible but damaging femme fatal for boys, and the “bad boy” or cad for girls. A vampire is frequently an archetype of the charismatic, handsome, man, who seduces women by his very indifference toward them. Women find him alluring and seek chase, only to discover too late that they are broken upon his heartless unmovable nature. The vampire holds out the promise of love, but alas lacks even humanity.

Vampires and zombies share another well-spring of horror: you could easily become one. You or your loved one is just a little bite away from contracting the disease. In the age of AIDS, swine flu, SARS, and myriad pandemic anxieties, it’s easy to see why monsters who transmit their monstrosity through bites (both sexual and gustatory) are especially frightening. In the medieval mind, monsters and demons were metaphysically different from you and I, and in the unlikely event that you were transformed into one you could be sure it was the result of serious sin. Nowadays, however, casual, accidental contact can make you “one of them.”

One suspects that losing one’s humanity, or becoming one of them, is also at play in our dread fascination with serial killers –real and imagined monsters. We have extensive media coverage, and corresponding public appetite, for real serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, Ed Gein, as well as the popular fictional characters Norman Bates, Sweeney Todd, Hannibal Lecter, Freddy Krueger, Leatherface, Michael Myers, and so on. Why are so many of us repelled, disgusted, and morally outraged, but also willing to lay out cash to see psychotic murderers hang people on meat hooks, sever limbs, and of course eat their innocent victims?

Before the 1950s, very few people would have suggested that a serial killer was anything like you, or I, or churchgoing folks. And yet, now it is commonplace for people to think of psychopaths as just slight (albeit horrifying) deviations on the otherwise normal brain or psyche. A murdering psychopath is not a demon-possessed creature or an offspring of Cain, but a guy who failed to develop normal levels of human compassion. Most of us believe that the exact causes of monstrous serial killing will be found eventually in brain science or developmental psychology or some combination, but we don’t think that Gacy, Dahmer, Hannibal Lecter, or Leatherface, are metaphysically different from us. We have secularized the evil of such psychopaths only recently, and maybe this is one reason why we love to hate them.

Just as Sendak’s monsters give us a kind of Rousseauian view of going “back to the wild” (wherein the authentic self is discovered, uncorrupted by society), so too Leatherface and similar monsters of “torture porn” give us a kind of Freudian view of going native. We’re attracted to serial killers because they lack conscience, hurt their enemies with impunity, and feel very little. They do the stuff we might do, if we had not been socialized properly. We’re attracted to their animalistic primitive powers. But we’re simultaneously repulsed by them because they lack the precise qualities that make us human.

If Rousseau and the hippies are right, then our inner primitive monsters will be more like Sendak’s beasties; weird, a little dangerous, but ultimately helpful. If, however, Freud is right about the kinds of monsters inside us, then we shouldn’t go too often or too long to where the wild things are.

Like rock’n’roll, the wild primitivism of monsters is tempered by bourgeois (and simply human) needs for security, safety and stability. Howlin’ Wolf is sanitized into Elvis, the “long haired” Beatles have to wear suits, the mud-soaked Woodstock kids are ready to go home after the weekend, and Sendak’s little “Max” misses his mom and leaves his monsters to return to “his very own room where he found his supper waiting for him, and it was still hot.”

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17. Odds and Bookends: October 16

‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days’ is released
The latest book in the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series is out, posing another ethical dilemma for its antihero.

Positive attitudes generate whirlwind change
George Bickert, a first-year school principal sees Tohatchi Elementary School through a complete academic turnaround.

Interview with children’s book author Kate DiCamillo
Kate DiCamillo’s most recent book, “The Magician’s Elephant” is a rewarding and imaginative journey for younger readers that even adults can enjoy.

2009 National Book Awards Finalists
This year’s National Book Awards Finalists have officially been announced. The much anticipated winners are set to be announced on November 18.

“Let the Wild Rumpus Start”
Today, Friday October 16 marks the release of ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ directed by Spike Jonze, based on Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s book.

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18. Ypulse Essentials: GeekChicDaily, Txt 4 Help, Teen Driver Safety Week

'Where The Wild Things Are' (reviews are in from New York Times, reg. required, EW and NPR. and Critics are divided, but most are variations on this sentiment: "alternately perfect and imperfect if always beautiful." Also Wes Anderson's "Fantastic... Read the rest of this post

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19. When Wild Things Happen:You've Seen the Difference and It's Getting Better All the Time

This is For You -- and anyone else -- Out There in the world that stops, drops and listens to a song, a poem, a story, the words drawing us in and reminding us of something more than dialogue and setting and plots and lyrics and music to make true connections in the oddest of synapses and crevices.



I should quickly explain the reason why the song "I'll Stop the World and Melt with You" triggered so much Cosmic Thought last night. Cryptic is good for our mss, not our friends. {}

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Saturday night. One child out. The younger girl with us. We originally intended to go see WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE but we decided to wait until both girls could see the movie together and with us.



We decided on a lovely Japanese dinner instead. My daughter has been craving for sushi for weeks. It's not my favorite but I Did It For Her. The restaurant was elegant but comfortable and the food was delicious (if you think, like my daughter does, that eel rolls are delicious; I went for the safer selection of chicken teriyaki). Everyone was happy (except for the eels that sacrificed their lives for the happiness of my child).

eel rolls

Driving home last night with our younger daughter in the back seat, we put on our favorite Saturday night radio show: WFUV 90.7 FM, Vin Scelsa's Idiot's Delight. (Nan, I bet you know about Vin since we grew up in same area. Does the name ring a bell? He was part of the 102.7 WNEW-FM when Rock Lived there for the important years of our growing up.) {}

VIN SCELSA

For reasons I am trying to find out (via Vin Scelsa's message board), at appx 11 pm, Vin played "I'll Stop the World and Melt for You." (I should back up here. When we had the show on earlier in the evening, author Jonathan Lethem was Vin's in-studio guest. We had dinner plans (with the daughter) and then we had an hour to go to the Book Revue-- yes the Book Revue [info]nanmarino came to see Buzz Aldrin a few months ago and shared her book, Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me, with the world-famous astronaut and the very same Book Revue the world-famous writer Melodye Shore, [info]newport2newport, shared a few special moments with me on her visit to Long Island far too long ago.

BUZZ ALDRIN
Yes, Nan, [info]nanmarino, that's your photo! I hope you don't mind seeing it again!Thank you!

(A special note here to Mary Cronin, [info]maryecronin: I can never leave a bookstore empty-handed. Last night's treasure? Two collections of poetry by Mary Oliver to add to my overstuffed poetry book shelves-- not that I am complaining.)

When we left the store at closing time, Vin was in the middle of a long, musical set. "Stop the World" played. My daughter was electrified. "Love this song!" she told us. "It's on my IPOD. I play it all the time!" I had no idea she knew the song. It was wonderful to be able to sing together. I was sorry we were close to home when the song ended and we had to get inside to let the dog out. I didn't get to hear Vin explain -why- he played the song. Was it a random call or was there a specific meaning behind its selection? (With Vin, you never know.) {}

I told my daughter we would have to rent VALLEY GIRL and watch it together. "Stop the World" always makes me think of Valley Girl and Nicolas Cage as the weird, gothic boyfriend to perky Deborah Foreman's Valley Chick. Used to love that movie and it will be fun to see it again with my daughter. "Stop the World and Melt with You" will forever conjure up images of that last scene as Cage and Foreman drive off into the sunset.



The night is winding down. I was in my office late last night. The house, so hushed and serene and quiet. My favorite part of the day. Alone with my files and keyboard and music.
I turned on the television and flipped around until I stopped at PBS and the movie ADAPTATION. I've always meant to see the movie from start to finish but it's never happened. And there it was with one hour left and there was.. Nicolas Cage, of all people, playing the screenwriter in ADAPTATION. (The scene where Cage's character is abused by STORY'S Robert McKee in the midst of his infamous writing seminar is classic and a must-see for all writers. Now I HAVE to rent two movies: Valley Girl and Adaptation!)



I wanted to know the actors' names in ADAPTATION. I clicked onto its IMDB site and poked around.

Here's where it gets weirdest of all.

I had NO idea ADAPTATION was directed by... Spike Jonze!
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SPIKE JONZE

How much more breathtakingly wired could this all be?

"Melt the World" segues into Nicholas Cage segues into Adaptation and Nicholas Cage and Spike Jonze segues into WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE directed by Spike Jonze!

Where the wild Things Are

It was all just tooooo weird. (Okay so now there are three movies that circled into my life last night: Valley Girl, Adaptation, and Where the Wild Things Are!)

And it was all because of a random moment on a radio station and sweet music that brought together mom, dad and daughter in a moment of sweet harmony.

It's crazy what a song can do, isn't it? {}

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"The book has no story. There's no story." (Alright. Make one up.)

...except every word in this story, my story, is true
and even if you didn't live it,
you've felt it
and if you've felt it,
now it's your story, too
and if you didn't write it,
you can read it
and that makes all the difference in the world.
That's the wild thing about writing and reading.
Your stories are true for someone, somewhere.

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20. Who Went Looking For 'Where The Wild Things Are'?

After nearly a year of blogging your ears off about the Spike Jonze helmed adaptation, yesterday I finally saw "Where The Wild Things Are." I left the theater content and teary-eyed, and judging from a quick glance at the crowd, mostly in their 20s... Read the rest of this post

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21. Ypulse Essentials: Meez On MySpace, Music Games Bring Encore For Industry, Gen Y Picks Email Over Social Network

Meez Nation moves into MySpace (integrating the teen virtual world, which has been profitable since April (!), into the social networking platform. Interesting development in the cool comeback strategy. Plus Denny's expands its Allnighter program... Read the rest of this post

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22. Geoff McFetridge “Does”

I feel like I got this flood of great Geoff McFetridge exposure recently. Last time I was in Seattle, I discovered his fantastic installation at the Seattle Art Museum’s cafe by the sculpture garden. Then I watched the great documentary, Beautiful Losers, where McFetridge appears among a bunch of other artists I love. Of course he also did lettering, titles, and other drawings for Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are.

And finally, above is a great video of McFetridge talking about how he works and what he does, all while a video of him doodling runs on the screen behind him. Thanks, universe, for the inspiration!


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23. Clips from the new Higglety Pigglety Pop! film

So you may have already heard that there’s going to be a Higglety Pigglety Pop! short film as a bonus feature on the Where the Wild Things Are Blu-Ray, which is coming out March 2. Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life is of course the other major chidren’s book by Maurice Sendak. It’s a surreal story about a dog looking for Experience.

The film is semi-animated (there are puppets involved) by the filmmakers of Madame Tutli-Putli and includes the voice-acting of Meryl Streep (Jennie), Forest Whitaker (Lion), Spike Jonze (Plant). The production design – as in Tutli Putli - is rich and stunning. Streep is perfect as usual.

Two more clips after the jump…

(...)
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24. And in the End…

And so we come to the last of my series of posts based on Jane Yolen’s list of “10 Words Every Picture Book Author Must Know.”  Resolution… a fitting word to end the series with! Thank you, Jane, for providing us with such thought-provoking bounty (and two months worth of fodder for blog posts!)

Resolution shares its root with “resolve,” and in literary terms, it means the point within the story when the central conflict is worked out, or the problem is solved. Perhaps not exactly how the protagonist intended or hoped, but solved nonetheless, and in such a way that the hero has learned something and has changed or grown in the process.

The best resolutions satisfy a need created at the beginning of the book.  This needn’t be happy – but it should feel both earned and inevitable, which is different from predictable.  Rather than anticipating how the book will end, the reader should be pleasantly surprised, yet also feel “But of course it had to end that way!”  And picture book endings must also be clear, as opposed to implied or left open; young readers may have difficulty choosing between possible outcomes.

Let’s look at an example. In the beginning of Where the Wild Things Are, Max’s mother is angry with him, and sends him to bed without any supper.  The resolution occurs when Max decides, after a long ‘journey’ indulging in all his wild fantasies, to return home where “someone loves him best of all,” and discovers his dinner waiting for him. There’s that memorable last line: “And it was still hot.”

From this the reader understands that Max has been forgiven.  The need established at the beginning of the book – for Max to know that he is still loved, and lovable – has been met.  His problem – going to bed without supper – has been solved.  But note that his Mother is not calling him to dinner at the family table.  He has, after all, been naughty.  Yet we worry for a child who goes to bed without any supper, so dinner in his room feels both earned and satisfying (at least, by the parenting standards of Maurice Sendak’s era!)  And the fact that it’s still hot tells us that it wasn’t such a long journey after all. In fact, maybe just as short as a dream.

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25. How to Write an Award Winning, Bestselling Children’s Book

A lot of people stop by this site because they’re curious to learn what it takes to not only write a children’s book, but to write a successful one. Some authors appear at workshops where they charge hundreds of dollars to dispense such insider tips. Not me. Today, I’m giving the good stuff out for free. I only ask that you thank me in your acknowledgements and cut me in on any foreign rights. It’s a fair trade for this invaluable wisdom. Let’s get down to it.

First off, the old advice is often the best advice. Write what you know. Do you know a puppy that’s a bit poky? How about some teenagers who hunt each other for sport? Connecting with children is about connecting with the world around you. A few monkeys don’t hurt either. That’s right. Forget wizards, vampires and zombies. Monkeys are what distinguish great children’s books. Try to imagine The Secret Garden without Jose Fuzzbuttons, the wisecracking capuchin whose indelible catchphrase “Aye-yaye-yaye, Mami, hands off the yucca!” is still bandied about schoolyards today? I don’t think you can.

Of course, the magic that is artistic inspiration must find its way in there. So how do you grab hold of it? Christopher Paolini swears by peyote-fueled pilgrimages to the Atacama Desert. I’m more of a traditionalist. A pint of gin and a round of Russian Roulette with Maurice Sendak always gets my creative juices flowing. Have fun. Experiment. Handguns and hallucinogens need not be involved. Though I see no reason to rule them out. Find what works for you.

Now, you’ll inevitably face a little writer’s block. There are two words that cure this problem and cure it quick. Public Domain. Dust off some literary dud and add spice to it. Kids dig this stuff. For instance, you could take some Edith Wharton and inject it with flatulence. The Age of Innocence and Farts.  Done. Easy. Bestseller.

I give this last bit of advice with a caveat. Resist the temptation to write unauthorized sequels to beloved classics. I speak from experience. My manuscripts for You Heard What I Said Dog, Get Your Arse Outta Here! and God? Margaret Again…I’m Late have seen the bottom of more editors’ trash cans than I care to mention. Newbery bait? Sure. Immune to the unwritten rules of the biz? Hardly.

Okay, let’s jump forward. So now you’ve got your masterpiece, but how the heck are you going to sell the thing? Truth be told, you’re going to need an advanced degree first. As anyone will inform you, kid lit authors without PhDs or MFAs are rarely taken seriously. If you can’t work Derrida or Foucault into a pitch letter, then you certainly can’t survive a 30-minute writing workshop with Mrs. Sumner’s 5th period reading class. So invest 60-100K and 3-6 years of your life. Then let the bidding war begin.

In the off chance that your book isn’t going to sell for six figures, try blackmail. Sounds harsh, but the children’s book industry runs almost exclusively on hush money and broken kneecaps. I mean, Beverly Cleary doesn’t even own a car. So why is she always carrying a tire iron?

Money is now under the mattress and the editorial process begins. Don’t worry at all about this. Editors won’t even read your book. They’ll simply call in Quentin Blake for some illustrations and then run the whole thing through a binding machine they keep in the back of the o

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