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Where the Wild Things Are Children's Book Review and Pre-K Lesson Plan

Carolyn writes about children's literature for library, preschool, or homeschool settings. She has a BA in English Literature.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Sendak's Wild Things Capture Readers' Imagination for Almost 60 Years

Where the Wild Things Are is so familiar and well-loved a children's book that its status is iconic. Winning the prestigious Caldecott Medal just one year after its publication in 1963, this book has been a favorite of children, parents, and teachers and librarians for almost 60 years!

Max in his wolf suit gets into all kinds of mischief, until his mother sends him to bed without any supper. Max's adventure begins with a forest that grows in his bedroom. Max boards a ship and sails "through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are."

Little Max in his wolf suit is relatable for his brash unloveability, and his naughty insolence paves the way for other characters, like David in the David Shannon "No David!" series.

"...and they were frightened, and called him the most wild thing of all."

— Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

Max in his wolf suit, the most wild thing of all.

Max in his wolf suit, the most wild thing of all.

Max, the most wild thing of all, tames the wild things and becomes their ruler, leading a wild rumpus. Until he begins to miss his mother, and the familiar smells of mother's home cooking rouses him from his fantasy adventure.

As both author and illustrator, Sendak combines detailed pen and ink drawings with deceptively simple text that comes together in a deliciously sophisticated and polished way. The words and images strike a chord with readers for their direct realism representing a certain truthfulness about the energy and temperament of little boys, whose wild and uncontrollable feelings often express themselves in very inappropriate ways. The juxtaposition of fantasy and realism in this story creates a dramatic tension that carries through to the very last line: "And it was still hot."

Max is a character that toddlers can relate to. Max in his wolf suit with its long claws mimics the imagery of the monsters in this delightful fantasy.

I think that it is difficult to go wrong when sharing this story with children in a story time setting. Where the Wild Things Are is a children's classic with many, many fans. And best of all, because children are children, the book's delights will even be new to some of your young readers.

Max, King of the Wild Things, leads the wild rumpus.

Max, King of the Wild Things, leads the wild rumpus.

Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen, illustrated over 150 books.

Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen, illustrated over 150 books.

Maurice Sendak on Being a Kid | Blank on Blank

An Interview with Maurice Sendak

What experiences helped to form the vivid imagination of Maurice Sendak? In the following interview, Sendak describes his experiences as a reader of children's literature in elementary school.

Themes and Motifs

  • Fantasy
  • Imagination
  • Misbehavior
  • Monsters
  • Bedtime
  • Play
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

Higglety Pigglety Pop by Maurice Sendak

Higglety Pigglety Pop by Maurice Sendak

Books by Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak is an innovator in children's fiction writing. His style is wildly fanciful, and his messages are often political.

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  • In the Night Kitchen
  • Outside Over There
  • Chicken Soup With Rice, A Book of Months
  • Alligators All Around
  • Really Rosie
  • Brundibar
  • Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or, There Must Be More to Life
President Obama reads Where The Wild Things Are to school children on the White House lawn.

President Obama reads Where The Wild Things Are to school children on the White House lawn.

Where the Wild Things Are Pre-K Lesson

Music and Movement

  • Add to your introductory song a few songs that fit your monster theme. One time I brought a portable DVD player. I played the Purple People Eater Song and we free-danced around the room.
  • Play "Duck, Duck, Wild Thing." (Best for groups of 10 or fewer children). Who says "it" has to be a goose?
  • Take the children on a Wild Rumpus monster walk. Tell the children that you are going to pretend to be Wild Things, and have a parade through your home, preschool, or library. Hold out your arms, curl your hands into claws, make big stomping steps, and snarl!
  • Five Little Monsters. Sing to the tune of "five little monkeys jumping on the bed"
  • Monster Stomp Action Rhyme
  • Action Rhyme: “Monster Stomp
  • If you want to be a monster, now’s your chance.
    ‘Cause everybody’s doing the monster dance.
    You just stamp your feet, wave your arms around. (Stomp, wave arms.)
    Stretch ‘em up, stretch ‘em up, (Stretch up arms.)
    Then put them on the ground. (Put hands on the floor.)
    ‘Cause you’re doing the monster stomp. (Stomp feet.)
    That’s right! You’re doing the monster stomp. (Stomp feet.)
  • Action Rhyme: “Monsters Galore
    Monsters galore, can you roar? (Roar.)
    Monsters galore, can you soar? (Flying motions.)
    Monsters galore, please shut the door. (Clap.)
    Monsters galore, fall on the floor! (Sit/fall down.)
    Credit: Storytimekatie.com
  • Freeze Dance to "Wild Things," by The Learning Station. Video below.

Crafting with Where the Wild Things Are

Recycled Wild things monster craft. Almost anything can become a monster with a set of googly eyes, a silly nose, and some fangs. Assemble recycled materials and get creative with glue and scissors. Keep in mind that children under the age of five usually need help with scissors, so pre-cut if your group is younger.

"King/Queen of the Wild Things" crown. Make crowns from long pieces of colorful construction paper, like the crowns that Max wears in Wear the Wild Things Are. Make sure you have sturdy card stock or construction paper. Kids can color their crowns with paint, crayons, or markers. Add embellishments as you wish. Once your crowns are dry, use a stapler to connect the ends together in a cylinder.

Monster finger puppets. Felt fabric rectangles can be folded down and pre-sewn to make finger puppets. Bring googly eyes and pre-cut hair made from felt to glue on to the finger puppets for this very simple craft.

No, David by David Shannon

No, David by David Shannon

No David! by David Shannon, is a hilarious look at a naughty toddler who gets away with a lot more than Max ever did.

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. A young boy named Harold draws his way through an entire story with only a purple crayon and his imagination to get him through.

Little Cloud by Eric Carle is about a fluffy little cloud that uses its imagination to transform into various objects.

Little Cloud by Eric Carle is about a fluffy little cloud that uses its imagination to transform into various objects.

Little Cloud by Eric Carle is all about imagination. Like Max in Where the Wild Things Are, the main character's imagination takes a journey of wonder.


© 2008 Carolyn Augustine

Comments

Tolovaj on March 14, 2014:

This book is real treasure and one of rare books which became commercial success (partly on controversies surrounding it) and actually set new standards in writing for children. Yes, it is pleasure to read for audience of all ages, but it is obviously written for children in mind what can be felt in every sentence, while, for instance, fairy tales by Andersen were written by children and their parents in mind.

htodd from United States on October 22, 2011:

This is really a great post..Thanks

ruffridyer from Dayton, ohio on August 12, 2011:

They made the book into a full-lenght movie. I hated it. Love the book thought.

risarooh9 on January 23, 2011:

I LOVE this book!

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on February 22, 2010:

Thanks SidneyMorgan, I'm glad you stopped by!

SidneyMorgan from Australia on February 21, 2010:

Such a great book to read with the kids. I loved the craft ideas! Thanks!

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on November 12, 2009:

I haven't made these for about three years, but they are very simple. The object is to use things you have on hand, so you can be extremely creative. If you don't have materials to glue on you can always use markers and crayons. Good luck.

sev on November 12, 2009:

does anyone have a sample of the craft the children produced?

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on May 26, 2009:

One of the best--one of those children's books that qualify as true children's literature.

MS Writer on May 07, 2009:

Good choice for a book review. Where The Wild Things Are is definitely a classic.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on May 20, 2008:

OOPS! I haven't been corrected on my vocabulary gaff! You are all too kind. Iconoclastic is opposite of what I meant to say--Iconic was the word I meant to use! Guess I'll change that.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on May 19, 2008:

Thanks Julie! I agree--the adults buy the books, but the children are the measure of the book's staying power. And some books that my kids enjoy can be really annoying to read over and over. Those ones sometimes disappear.

Julie A. Johnson from Duluth, MN on May 19, 2008:

Great book. The true test of a good children's book is when it speaks to both children and adults. This book does, and the artwork is awesome! Read on, and write on. Thanks.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on May 19, 2008:

Thank you very much! I am having so much fun as a new Hubpages member writing these book reviews! Hopefully someone can use the lesson plans in their preschool or homeschool setting. I've been wanting to share this information for a long time.

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