I have always loved animals. As a little girl, I was very attracted to fanciful stories about critters of all kinds, including monsters. When other kids might have shied away from terrifying creatures with roars fiercer than lions, I would gravitate toward them with the speed of Hermes delivering messages from the mighty Zeus. Where the Wild Things Are made my mind wander in all the good ways. That is why it has stuck with me for so long.
Where the Wild Things Are is the story of Max, a rather naughty boy in a white wolf costume, who is sent to his room without dinner. While trying to entertain himself, Max’s imagination transports him to a magical island where only the most wild of beasts live. Max intimidates the barbaric hoards with his fearless stare, and they make him their king. He plays this wonderful game until he becomes bored and smells the delicious food his mother has made. He wants to go somewhere where he is loved. So, he travels back to his room to find his dinner waiting there for him, despite his mother saying he would get none that night.
Play, adventure, and unconditional love. These are the things my childhood had, what every childhood should have. Of course, I moved on from Max and his wild thing kingdom. On to Frodo and the one ring, on to Tiffany Aching learning to be a witch, and more recently on to Mark Watney stuck all alone on a far away red planet. But I always tried to put a bit of that feeling into my children’s lives. The play from their friendships I worked so hard to foster. The adventure through Harry Potter and the 20 different voices I used when I read out loud to them. And the unconditional love, I hope, they felt every time I kissed them goodnight or sang to them before bed, even when they had been particularly naughty that day.
©2016 Nancy Lehmann