Where the Wild Things Are

For children’s books, I decided to start with the best of the best. Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are tops School Library Journal‘s selection of the Top 100 Picture Books, along with many other lists of the greatest children’s books. This classic, which has been called the first modern picture book, depicts the epic adventures of Max in the land of the wild things after he is sent to bed with no supper.



Sendak has said, “From their earliest years, children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions…They continually cope with frustration as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming wild things.”

And now for some Wild Things trivia:

  • (This is one of my very favorite pieces of book trivia. Please appreciate it accordingly.) The book’s original working title was Where the Wild Horses Are. Sendak didn’t like the way he drew horses, though, so the horses became wild things. 


    Curiously, Sendak illustrated several horse-themed picture books, including Charlotte and the White Horse

  • As is typical for classic works, Where the Wild Things Are received its fair share of initial controversy. Psychologists and parents worried that the book was too frightening and glorified bad behavior.
  • In addition to winning the 1964 Caldecott Prize for Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak would go on become one of only two individuals (Katherine Paterson is the other) to win the Hans Christian Anderson Award for Illustration, The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal.

    Half Pint approves.


  • 19 million copies of the book have sold since Where the Wild Things Are‘s publication. 10 million of those sales were in the United States alone.
  • The book was adapted into an opera in 1980. I swear I’m not making that up.

Wait. What?


  • Sendak’s work drew on his experiences as the child of Jewish-Polish parents. Even referring to his creatures as “wild things” comes loosely from “Vilde Chayea,” a Yiddish epithet for naughty children that means “wild animal.”
  • President Obama gave an energetic, interactive reading of the book at this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll.

I don’t care what your political leanings are. Those faces are pure gold.


  • The Google Doodle for June 10, 2013, Sendak’s 85th birthday, celebrated his life and works.

If it’s been a while since you’ve read Where the Wild Things Are, now is the perfect time to rejoin the wild rumpus.

It’s Thursday, and we’re trying something new around here. Each week, we’ll feature one of the most highly acclaimed items in our collection, chosen from lists like the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest American Films, The BBC’s Big Read, and School Library Journal’s Top 100 Picture Books. In addition to a quick review, we’ll make sure to include some fun tidbits about the book or movie and its creation. What can we say? We’re librarians – of course we love trivia.

This week’s selection is number 1 on School Library Journal’s Top 100 Picture Books.


One response to “Where the Wild Things Are

  1. Pingback: Goodnight Moon | Just Browsing·

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