Where the Wild Things Are



Classic all-ages masterpiece has a wild imagination.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

A good lesson in the power of imagination.

Positive role models

Max is a great model of a boy using his imagination. He misbehaves around the house and is sent to his room without any supper. He also sends the wild things to bed without supper. Perhaps his behavior toward the monsters means he understands why he was punished, making it a touching gesture when his dinner is waiting for him in his room.

Violence & scariness

Max threatens to eat up his parents and the wild things. The wild things gnash their teeth and pretend to be scary but they have rather goofy, kind faces and Max isn't afraid of them.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are is a classic of children's literature. Although Max misbehaves, the message is one of parental love. This subtle masterpiece of story, writing, and art will have kids asking for repeated readings. Colorful language and a world of imagination make this wild adventure a fun learning experience.

What's the story?

Wild child Max gets sent to bed without his supper after threatening to eat his mom. Well, he'll show her, right? In his room -- or, at least, in his mind -- a forest grows. Max boards a ship that takes him across oceans and days to the home of the wild things, which threaten him with snarls and claws and eye-rolling. Does this frighten our little wolf-boy? Of course not! Max hypnotizes the monsters, who declare him the most wild thing of all. Max joins in on the fun but quickly bores of the new adventure and sails back home -- to find supper in his room, still hot!

Is it any good?


This wonderful book is arguably Sendak's best work -- and one of the true classics of children's literature. Perhaps the most appealing element is the wordless series of illustrations in which, after Max begins the "wild rumpus," he and his new friends dance and cavort through six pages of some of the most whimsical, enchanting, and unique artwork in children's literature. The message of unconditional parental love is reassuring to young ones and a perfect ending to the story.

There's a reason why this won the Caldecott Medal. Sendak's giant monster characters are iconic. While they are described as scary in the book, their faces and lumbering frames make them appear almost jovial. You can almost feel the room shake when you watch them cavort in the forest. Max and his new friends dance and cavort through six pages of some of the most whimsical, enchanting, and unique artwork in children's literature.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Max's behavior. Why does Max act the way he does?

  • If he loves adventure so much, why does he go back home to his parents?

  • Which is your favorite of Max's monster friends?

Book details

Author:Maurice Sendak
Illustrator:Maurice Sendak
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:December 31, 1969
Number of pages:38
Read aloud:2
Read alone:6
Award:Caldecott Medal and Honors

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byjillianlovescats April 9, 2008

I read this in Elementary School!

Max is a good boy! He just wants to hang out with the Wild Things!
Parent of a 1, 10, 14, and 17 year old Written bySystemOfANintendo September 24, 2010

One of the best children's books out there!

It's perfect for kids of all ages. This is an amazing book that you'll never outgrow.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008


The only bad things in this book are Max doing tons of horrible things. That is all I have to say about this wonderful book.


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