Where the Wild Things Are

Here’s an interesting piece from the SFGate.com site – “Books that traumatized you as a child,” by Peter Hartlaub, who also wrote about movies that traumatized kids. Hartlaub doesn’t seem to have actually been traumatized by a book (in my experience, books don’t send most kids into terror and anxiety the way that visual and sound media – namely movies and TV shows – do).

But he does write that he doesn’t understand the appeal of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.

I think part of the problem was it was introduced to me when I was really young, and had never seen anything more challenging in content than a Richard Scarry book. While I completely respect the artwork and Maurice Sendak’s story, the image of a little boy in his pajama-looking wolf suit wandering around without dinner in a spooky monster-filled woods was too depressing for me to enjoy.

It’s interesting, though, to see the books listed in the comments. Those who wrote in hated, or were frightened by, Bread and Jam for Frances, The Red Pony, and Where the Red Fern Grows. The last one, at least, is completely understandable, but I think that the books (and media) that bother or scare us as kids are often completely peculiar to our own experiences. Once, in a library where I worked years ago, there was a child who attended storytime weekly who was not only scared of insects of any kind, but he couldn’t bear to hear any story or song with bugs in it. If he heard “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly,” for example, his eyes grew wide, he’d start whimpering, and his mom had to scoop him up and take him out.

I hope he grew out of it.

Did I book ever traumatize me? I can’t really remember. I thought Where the Wild Things Are was an extremely cool story, myself. For me, it was scary TV shows. There are still a few episodes of Twilight Zone that I remember scared the bejezus out of me when I was eight or nine…

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