Answer Key: Maurice Sendak: No Fear Of “The Wild Things”

Post and Lesson Plan Here

II. While Reading Tasks


Word Inference

nuance |ˈn(y)o͞oˌäns| noun-a subtle difference in or shade of meaning, expression, or sound: the nuances of facial expression and body language.

taboo |təˈbo͞o, ta-|-noun ( pl. taboos )-a social or religious custom prohibiting or forbidding discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.

anxiety |aNGˈzī-itē|-noun ( pl. anxieties )-a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome: he felt a surge of anxiety |

inspirational |ˌinspəˈrāSHənl|-adjective-providing or showing creative or spiritual inspiration: the team’s inspirational captain.

protagonist |prōˈtagənist, prō-|-noun-the leading character or one of the major characters in a drama, movie, novel, or other fictional text.

conjure |kənˈʤʊ(ə)r|-verb-|ˈkänjər, ˈkən-| [ with obj. ] make (something) appear unexpectedly or seemingly from nowhere as if by magic: Anne conjured up a most delicious homemade stew.

beneficiary |ˌbenəˈfiSHēˌerē|-noun ( pl. beneficiaries )-a person who derives advantage from something, esp. a trust, will, or life insurance policy.

narrative |ˈnarətiv|-noun-a spoken or written account of connected events; a story: the hero of his modest narrative.

conceptual conceptual |kənˈsepCHo͞oəl|-adjective-of, relating to, or based on mental concepts: philosophy deals with conceptual difficulties.

homage homage |ˈ(h)ämij|-noun-special honor or respect shown publicly: they paid homage to the local boy who became president | a masterly work written in homage to Beethoven.


Reading comprehension 


“Maurice Sendak’s 1963 “Where the Wild Things Are” unlocked a scary, psychologically nuanced, inner world long taboo in mainstream children’s books. Mr. Sendak once told me that King Kong was a great character and had influenced him when he created “Wild Things.”

“You’re supposed to be frightened of these things. Kids need Kongs to help them conquer their anxiety,” he said.

Maybe “Wild Things” is not your particular inspirational tipping point. Mr. Sendak’s 1970 “In the Night Kitchen” also spooked a generation of readers. Mickey, the naked 3-year-old protagonist, and the whorl of sexual innuendos that floated around him, were shocking in their day. And, if Mr. Sendak’s work, in general, conjured demons, “In the Night Kitchen” kindly presented a way of using imagination to conquer them.

The artists and designers here are direct beneficiaries of Mr. Sendak’s genius. He revolutionized narrative and conceptual illustration through the way he interpreted his own influences; he drew from the past to illuminate the present.”


IV. Listening Activity 

Video Clip: Maurice Sendak’s Last Interview with Stephen Colbert, Part 1:Time NewsFeed

Colbert:  Mr. Sendak thank you so much for talking to me today.  Now, tell me about children’s  literature.  Don’t you think that by writing books for children, you’re sending children the message that reading is important?

Maurice Sendak:   Very much so. Yes.

Colbert: Let’s  talk about kids. I don’t trust them.

Sendak: Is that true?

Colbert: They are just biding their time until we’re gone, and they get our stuff,  and they take our place.

Sendak: That’s an  Interest ing point of view. But not interesting to me particularly.  There is something  in this country that is so opposed to understanding the complexity of children. It’s quite amazing.

Colbert:  What do you mean by the complexity of children? Cause children have it easy. They get driven every place, we feed them, we dress them. Newt Gingrich said it, “children don’t have a work ethic.”

Sendak:   But Newt Gingrich is an idiot. Of great renown, I give him that.

Colbert: Why write for children?

Sendak:  I don’t write for children.

Colbert: You don’t?

Sendak: No, I write.  And somebody says “thats for children.”  I  didn’t  set out to make children happy, or make life better for them or easier for them.

Colbert: Do you like them?

Sendak: I like them as few and far between as I do adults.  Maybe a bit more because I really don’t like adults, at all practically…