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where the wild things are

Oct 21 2009

The Magic of Children’s Literature

by Jnai W

Right now many adults are revisiting (and perhaps introducing their kids to) the 1963 classic Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, thanks largely to the new film adaptation of the book from director Spike Jonze. From the critics salivating over the new film to readers and scholars with fond memories of Sendak’s book, most fans agree that Where The Wild Things Are is impeccable in its celebration of childhood imagination and groundbreaking in its recognition of childhood angst and anger, even. But you can troll the web yourself for in-depth critical analysis of the book–I’ll try to steer clear of all of that.

In my day-to-day library work, I’m often stumbling onto old childhood favorites of mine, books that resonated for one reason or another. Here are a few of the ones that are truly special to me:

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe: I remember truly enjoying this book, not for the intriguing Cinderella-esque story alone but also because of Steptoe’s gorgeous and evocative illustrations. The thing that struck me most about the artwork was that it seemed to have so much richness and texture. The illustrations had this quality about them that made me want to reach out and touch the characters.

Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard: To this day, this book reminds me of my 4th grade teacher Miss Armstrong. She was a very sweet lady but my class sort of took her kindness for weakness. Miss Armstrong would have done well to have a raven-haired alter ego like Miss Viola Swamp, with scary make-up and even scarier temperament.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats: As a kid growing up in Atlanta, where the snowy days are few and far between, it was a real treat reading about the travails of little Peter in the beautifully snow-covered city.

Also, I’ve found some great adult books that celebrate the works of some of the great authors of children’s literature:

The Art of Maurice Sendak by Selma G. Lanes: This book is a smorgasbord for Sendak fans that features essays on his life, his career and his body of work as an illustrator and author. My favorite things about this book so far are the pages (three foldout pages!) of his brilliant artwork and a facsimile of “Where The Wild Horses Are“, the prototype of what would become the aforementioned Sendak masterpiece.

The Art of Eric Carle: This incredible book reflects upon the life and the art of legendary (and one of my favorite) children’s author Eric Carle. Much like Carle’s stunning book illustrations and artwork, this book is multi-textured and very colorful, an insightful collage of autobiography, essays and tributes from his peers and admirers.

Do you remember your favorite books from childhood? What are the qualities that make these books truly special?


Aug 19 2009

Wild Things

by Nancy M

wherethewildthingsare_l200904071204While the movie adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is not due to be released for another two months, there are plenty of Wild related things to keep our anticipation at bay and ensure that we will be ready to experience Spike Jonze’s movie to its fullest. If it has been awhile since you’ve read Sendak’s 1964 Caldecott winning book, you can check it out at the Library which has copies in English, Spanish and Chinese. If you haven’t seen the original movie trailer yet, which is pretty awesome, you can do so here.  And lucky us! A new trailer was released a couple of weeks ago, giving us a little bit more insight as to how they’ve taken a 10 sentence book and turned it into a feature-length film.

There are numerous people out there blogging about pretty much everything Wild related, but one of the coolest sites I’ve found is Terrible Yellow Eyes. The blogger was so inspired by Where the Wild Things Are that he set up a site that pays tribute to the book and its author. Artists from all over the world send in their own artistic reproductions of the book and the site is updated frequently.

The movie has been an enormous undertaking which has spanned many years and has involved hundreds of people. Check out Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are blog, We Love You So, to learn how the movie came to be.

And don’t forget to pre-order your Where the Wild Things Are figurines!

Do you have any fun Where the Wild Things Are sites to share?

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Jun 19 2009

Read it here first

by Lesley B

And they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teethFor those who like to debate Heather’s eternal question: book vs. movie,  2009 is a really interesting year for movie adaptations. Already we’ve gotten the long awaited Watchmen movie and Coraline was great in 3D. My Sister’s Keeper, from the Jodi Picoult novel, comes out next week and it looks like you’ll need a box of tissues to get through it. Next month brings us the long-awaited Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, from a film series that I think has done an especially good job of interpreting  J. K. Rowling’s books. Later this year we’ll get Julie and Julia, which was a blog and then a book about a woman living in a tiny New York City apartment deciding to cook every one of the recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Audrey Niffenegger’s heartbreaking The Time Traveler’s Wife comes to screens this fall (definitely read the book first) and don’t forget the next installment from the Stephenie Meyer vampire books, New Moon, set to come out in November. The kids get Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, based on a book about a town where it rains breakfast, lunch and dinner. The pictures in the book are hilarious and I want to see pancakes and syrup actually falling from the sky.

I’m most intrigued by the movie version of  Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak’s brief and mysterious picture book.  I wouldn’t have thought it could be done; but Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers, the creative minds behind the adaptation, are compelling artists themselves and I look forward to seeing their interpretation of Sendak’s work. The trailer is beautiful.

Request these titles from the library and you’ll be ready to start your own book vs. movie debate club.