Where the Wild Things Are

Book review by
Mary Dixon Weidler, Common Sense Media
Where the Wild Things Are Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Classic all-ages masterpiece has a wild imagination.

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 18 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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.


What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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.
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!
Written byAnonymous September 7, 2021

If not a bit scary, still is a good book -- promotes imgination

This book is a bit more frightening than most kid's friendly classic book. I did enjoy how this book promoted imagination -- that is a strong theme/part of... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old August 28, 2018

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love imagination and animals

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate