Abbey, my 5 year old daughter, has a virus and a pretty good fever. It’s amazing how illness can render her very articulate and reflective. Usually she’s my “wild thing” and I can’t get much out of her other than imaginative stories (when you can pin her down), bossy stage direction and interpretive dance. I’ve always been pretty indifferent about Where the Wild Things Are… yeah, I know, I know, but I’m not a monster person, really. So, since I’m already rather blasé about this book, I thought it might be fun to interview Immobile Abbey for this Caldecott Project installation. So we snuggled up and read it this evening and then I quizzed her.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
An Interview with Miss. Abbey Bieker
Abbey: “Yes. Can we read it again?”
Katie: “Sure. What’s your favorite part?”
Abbey: “I don’t know. I guess all of it.”
Katie: “Well, which is your favorite picture?”
Abbey: (turning to it) “This is my favorite picture and my favorite part, when his bedroom turns into the forest. I like forests. But the book says that there are vines. Are there vines? There aren’t really any vines in the picture.”
Katie: “I don’t know, maybe they’re behind the trees. Do you like that his imagination makes the forest seems real?”
Abbey: “Oh it’s not his imagination. It’s magic. That’s what I think. Because look how the walls all disappear. That’s because you can’t have walls in a forest, unless it’s a house with walls that’s in a forest… But maybe it’s his imagination but he’s just a really good imaginer and it became magic and that’s where he got his boat.”
Katie: “Are the monsters cool or kinda scary?”
Abbey: “Oh they don’t scare me at all because I’m very brave, but I guess they scared him some. But then he was king. I don’t like the rumpus much because there really aren’t any words and I think it would be pretty loud and annoying. Yes. It would.”
Katie: “When you get in trouble, do you sometimes feel like you want to be the boss? Do you think that’s why he imagined that he was king?”
Abbey: “Well, I don’t feel like I want to be a king ever because kings are boys. But sometimes I want to be a queen when I’m in trouble and when I’m not in trouble. Really, when I’m in trouble, it just makes me get mad. I think that when he was in the boat for lots and lots and lots (…) and lots of days, he probably got into a storm. Probably it was really an adventure. Why does he have a tail?”
Katie: “He’s wearing his wolf suit, remember? From the beginning?”
Abbey: “Yes, Mom, I already know that. I guess if I were in a wolf suit I’d probably get in trouble too because wolves can be pretty mean. See? His wolf suit has claws. Can we read the book about the pebble and the mule?”
And there you have it. So I would venture to say that, based on Abbey’s response, the power of this book is in the sense of adventure and the imagery. It’s fanciful and true to the feelings and reactions of a real kid. The pictures are certainly unique; the pencil sketch technique and earthy colors aren’t like any I’ve seen in other kids’ books. Obviously, it’s a classic and has stood the test of time. In the future, I will try to be more open-minded about gnashing teeth and rolling eyes. I’m sure they’re just lovely.
© Katie Bieker, 2013.