Review: Where the Wild Things Are

Ben Reed —  April 16, 2009 — 1 Comment

Have you ever read the childrens book, Where the Wild Things Are? I loved that book when I was a kid! I recently heard about the movie that’s coming out this Fall (update: Released October, 2009), and I’m already getting excited about it. I’ve posted the trailer below, but thought I’d give a few thoughts on the book first.

I never realized how weird the book is. Honestly, it’s a bit strange on first reading. If you haven’t read it in a while, here’s a video of a reading of Where the Wild Things Are:

Here is my take from the book.

The pros:

1. It paints quite an accurate picture of the mind of boys. Boys long for adventure. They long for something bigger than themselves. Max’s imagination runs wild as he sails across the sea, meets monsters, and rules over these mean, dangerous beasts. What boy doesn’t want to rule over dangerous creatures? Boys don’t want to be subdued by them!

2. The book shows that there is punishment for misbehavior. However you choose to discipline your children, you must discipline them!

3. Max’s parents show him love when they put a hot plate of food in his room. Discipline must be followed up by love (though I would argue that discipline is a loving act, I’ll do that in another post). At the time that I am writing this post, my son is almost 6 months old. He would not quite understand discipline yet. However, when he does, rest assured that we will discipline him. Each and every time we discipline him, though, we will end with hugging him and affirming our love for him. We never want him to equate discipline with only punishment. We discipline because we love, and want him to be 100% certain that we love him even though discipline is painful.

4. The artwork is fantastic. This is one thing that I loved when I was a child, and continue to appreciate today. There are many pages of monsters romping through the forest (Ok, I know…even as I write this, I feel silly talking about how I like to see monsters romping through the forest, but hang with me…), who, though they’re monsters, aren’t overly scary for children. The unique artwork is definitely a strength of the book.

The cautions:

1. First of all, be careful what you allow your children to read. Introduce material to your children with caution. Just because a book, or a movie, or a TV show, is for “children” does not mean that it’s appropriate for your child. Be discerning when it comes to stories you share with your children.

2. Is withholding food from your children the best form of punishment? I’m just saying…

3. I know that this may be a stretch, but we never see Max’s parents explain to him why he was punished, or why they gave in after some time. It’s important that children fully understand why they are being disciplined, both before and after. Max showed a heart of rebellion and pride, both in the home and in his imagination. He is disciplined because of this, but it’s important for him to understand why this is a problem, that his parents are the ones with the authority (though not in a smothering, exasperating kind of way (Ephesians 6:4)), and that his words and actions reveal deeper problems (Luke 6:45 says, “Out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”).

4. Max is never required to obey. His parents give in after a while (they really have to give in, so that Max eats, which furthers my point…is withholding food the best form of punishment, especially if you have to give in?). Max does not obey, yet the punishment eases. Is that how real life works? If you steal money at work, and are punished for it, does the punishment simply go away after a short period of time? No! There are steps of reconciliation you must make. Proverbs 29:15 tells us, “A child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.” Does Max truly regret rebelling against his parent’s authority?

In conclusion, I recommend reading the book, and doing so with discernment. It is a fun read for your children, and a good way to talk about deeper life issues.

Here’s the trailer for the new movie:

Have you seen the movie?  What do you think?

 

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Ben Reed

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  • Emily Chappelear

    We just saw the movie tonight. I feel pretty indifferent about it. It was fun to watch, but it didn't really communicate a clear moral to the story. The movie left some important elements out, for instance Max doesn't actually get punished, he gets screamed at and runs away. Some of the sceces are a little intense (hence the PG rating). Like the book, it might not be appropriate for all children. Our kids (6yo) liked it okay, but it's not the kind of movie that we would watch again.