Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Wild Things by Dave Eggers

Do you ever feel like pounding those who annoy you with tightly-packed snowballs until they beg for mercy? Or perhaps pouring bucket after bucket of water all over their nicest belongings? Or maybe just knocking them down and ferociously pummeling them until they are mincemeat? If so, you know how it feels to be eight-year-old Max, the main character in Dave Eggers's novel The Wild Things. Adapted for adults from a combination of Maurice Sendak's classic picture book Where the Wild Things Are and the screenplay of the 2009 film, this dark, poignant fantasy is a treat. Eggers takes Sendak's story and fleshes it out into a delightful 288 pages, giving Max parents who are divorced, an older sister who can't stand him, and barrels and barrels of explosive energy that absolutely must find an outlet.

Max may not know much, but he definitely knows how to rumpus! He has put on his wolf costume, howled at and bitten his mother, and pretty much destroyed the entire house. Now that he's in deep trouble, he decides to flee home for greener pastures. He confiscates a small boat that is moored nearby, planning to sail in the direction of his father's home in the city. But as fate would have it, he gets lost and lands on a mysterious island inhabited by huge, dangerous creatures the likes of which he has never seen. Incredibly, the creatures speak English, have names and distinct personalities, and happily adopt Max as their new king. But, as Max soon discovers, it's not easy being king to a bunch of unpredictable wild things. If they become bored and unhappy, no telling what they might do to him...

Eggers takes us on an edgy, dreamlike adventure with Max as he faces his deepest fears and frustrations and beats them into submission. Take a walk on the wild side! Embrace your inner wolf and search the VBPL catalog for The Wild Things. If you prefer a fantasy in which the runaway is female, try Valiant by Holly Black. And for two other gripping tales about runaway boys that only an adult could truly appreciate, revisit Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.

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