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Dear Maurice Sendak

Madison Morris
Hutchison School
Memphis
7th - 8th Grade
3rd

Ever since I read your book Where the Wild Things Are, I've been searching for the heaven you inspired in my mind. My childhood was richly imbued with the story of Max, who from the first page became my role model. I can't tell you how many times I built a fort, or fought with my brother and dad, or ran around the house like a crazy person, dragging my 'Lamby' into the fray with me, nor can I be sure why your story stuck with me throughout all my years. In my eyes, Max was the coolest person around, and he inspired my creation of countless cloth dolls, a myriad of hours spent pretending and reading and dreaming, and even a Where the Wild Things Are themed birthday party: complete with homemade costumes. However, despite how much you inspired my childhood through the swashbuckling images of Max's mischief, the story is beginning to change my view on the world at the moment, once again through its pictures. As a youth, I had loved the mischief, mystery, and wild boisterousness that filled Max's journey to the place where the Wild Things roamed…but now – as a girl growing out of childhood – it's the messages of the images which are the most striking to me.

The pictures you drew, no matter how many times I look at them, bring me to a place in my head that I can never reach on my own. I think it is the trees' sylvan closure that draws me in. they capture the aura of a dream and form the walls of the book; they shelter Max and the Wild Things from the severity of reality, and in them, I see a place that will never lose the sheen of innocence. Those trees you stroked into a page so long ago have grown into a silent forest in my memory, and it is this closed space that has come to me and been my protection as life carries me away from my care free days. Their un-needing steadfastness has become my idea of both personal peach and a sort of world peace: a place where freedom, imagination, and fearlessness run wild, unobstructed by hesitation or judgements.

Max's look of unease on the page where he realized, "And Max the king of all wild things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all" has also lingered with me. His dejected face when the wild rumpus had ended reminds me that it is okay to be lonely because that loneliness is needed to be the driving force to find someone worth sticking with in this life. Being imperfect is all right. It is not okay, however, to be cowed by my insecurities. In middle school, I have chased perfection in myself, my friends, my family, and my life. But the fact of the matter is that I can't be flawless: I can only be myself. Honestly, that sounds better than a plastic model of who I 'should be'.

Your book shaped a large portion of my youth, and as I am heading towards upper school, I see myself slowly moving away from my childish ways. But is that a good thing? Why is it considered 'mature' or 'sensible' to no longer believe in the things we had faith in as children? Even if they may not be 'real', that shouldn't mean it's okay to scorn them or not have confidence in them anymore. And now I believe I do know why I love Where the Wild Things Are so much. Even though you, Maurice Sendak, are an adult…you captured childhood. You reined in the look and feel of dreams and wishes, and you didn't let them go. I want to always believe in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, but even though I know they aren't real, I sense them around me and have learned that they do exist. Because as long as I keep the pureness and truth that I had when I was a small kid, I can know I am who I was before, and I won't change just to follow the crowd. Your book has given me this: the closed spaces that remind me of home, unreachable yet always available, and the power of creativity in a soul who needs it. The knowledge that unwelcome feelings are not necessarily destructive, as well as a way of looking at the world in a fresh way: viewing its possibilities and finding the truth and pureness in it that have been hidden by evil and hardship. It is okay to be changed, because it's the journey back home and into our own rooms that is the most important. The night isn't all bad, because it inspires; I can't let myself lose hope. Though it may be dark and wild things are all around, I know there will always be someone waiting for me to return home. "…into the night of his very own room where he found his supper waiting for him, and it was still hot."

Sincerely your reader,
Madison Morris

2016