Outside Over There – Maurice Sendak

I can’t figure out quite how this book ended up on my list of books to read and review.  I wrote the list. I chose the books.  This doesn’t fit the criteria – new, Canadian, aboriginal.  Nope, nope, nope.  How did I get this book?

I love Maurice Sendek’s “Where the Wild Things are”.  Nodelman critiques it for its stereotyping of boys and glorification of individualism but “Wild Things” is a wonderful little piece of fantasy and it never struck me that it was about boys or aggression.  It is about having a bad day and making poor choices.  It plays out the consequences for that choice and the fantasy of the boy in running away from his punishment.  Max is on a quest for control.  He does want to be able to be in charge but he is pulled back to his home, the warmth, the comfort, the company of home, even though it is a place where he has to suffer the consequences of poor choices.  Not a bad story.

“Outside over There” is in a similar vein.  This time we have a female main character – Ida.  Ida is lonely for her father who is away at sea.  She is in charge of her baby sibling and while she is supposed to be watching, goblins come and take the baby away.  The illustrations turn me off in this book, quite in contrast to the joy I get from the “Wild Things” illustrations.  I don’t like the look of the baby or the goblins as babies.  It would benefit from a more cartoon-look as there is in “Wild Things”.  Changed illustrations might have taken this book from yuck to alright but it wouldn’t be a book that would need replacing in my library.



Filed under children's lit, curriculum, library, literacy

4 responses to “Outside Over There – Maurice Sendak

  1. Debbie Pushor

    “Where the Wild Things Are” is also a great book for studying how illustrations add to the text of a story. When Max is confined in his room, the pictures are all bordered – controlled, defined, within limits. When Max is a wild thing, rolling over the seas or in the land of the wild things, the illustrations run right to/over the edges of the page, signifying the freedom and space Max has to be in charge of his own destiny. It’s fun to look at with children the story the words tell, the story the illustrations tell, and how the two intersect or complement one another – or do not, in some instances.

  2. I had never noticed the borders and lack in Wild Things. Interesting.

  3. Rachel Romano

    I think that you are missing the point of the story in Outside Over There. It is not supposed to have the cartoon like feel that WTWTA has, but is more of a fairy tale, or fable. I think that the drawings are exquisite, and do a perfect job of conveying Sendak’s story.

  4. I’m glad you like them. Can’t say you’ve changed my mind, the creatures feel creepy. It the story is intended to be creepy that’s great but for me it just doesn’t have that, je ne sais quoi.

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