Review Blog

Apr 07 2010

The Wild Things by Dave Eggers

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Hamish Hamilton, 2009. ISBN 978 0241144220.
Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak (1963) is an icon in children's literature with its wonderful display of temper, Max going off to his room to live out his wildness, and coming home to find his tea is waiting for him and is still hot. Pieces of that book remain with many many adults all their lives, and it is amazing to talk to people and find that is one of the books they most remember from their childhoods. So to make a film of it was always a fraught undertaking, and it did not seem to do well in the box office, although DVD sales may make up for this, but then to write a book of the film of the picture book, is a little bizarre.
Max in his wolf suit puts everyone off side, hiding in his ice hut in the garden, so finds his father's boat on the lake and sails off looking for another world. He lands on an island where the monsters make him their king, wanting him to solve some of their problems. But he doesn't; he causes many more. In his wildness he encourages the others to smash their houses, and run amok. The tension between Carol and Max causes friction in the group and it splinters ending in a war in which Douglas loses his arm and Katherine tries to eat Max. So Max leaves to go home.
A pastiche of the picture book and the film, I'm not sure who this is aimed at. Its length makes it older primary or lower secondary school kids, but Max is middle primary. But others love the book, so it will be up to the audience whether it goes off the library shelves or not. Initially many will read it because of its link with the original, and whether they find it intriguing enough to continue is another thing!
Fran Knight

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