This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Saturday Rave: Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

This picture book is a work of genius.

It's savage and strange and full of monsters with big triangular teeth.

(Maurice Sendak based the monsters on his aunts and uncles. Being able to base monsters on your relations is possibly the best thing there is about being a writer.)

The cross-hatched illustrations are energetic and angry and full of  fierceness and joy, and the text is sinewy and poetic and both full of mischief, and bursting with the frustration of being very young.

'Let the wild rumpus start!' orders Max.*

Oh, and who wouldn't be the better for the occasional wild rumpus?

Word To Use Today: rumpus. This wonderful word has been around since the 1700s, but unfortunately no one knows from where it came. The Oxford English Dictionary says probably a fanciful formation - which means that probably someone made it up because they liked the sound of it.

I'd tend to finger someone's aunt, myself.

*But do see the comments, below, to see How I Messed Up Big Time. Ah well!


  1. OH how I agree! A top work of Western Civilisation and a joy to all who read it. Love it to bits. I don't have a copy here but will be PEDANTIC anyway and suggest that the word is 'start.' As in 'Let the wild rumpus start.' I will stand corrected if I'm wrong. But yes, a marvellous book and you're right about the joys of turning relatives into fictional monsters. Rave on!

  2. To be honest I couldn't find my copy when I was writing this, Adele, but I checked on-line and it does seem to be BEGIN.

    It gives the rumpus a sort of fanfare, doesn't it: ta-DAH!

    Anyone out there got a copy and can tell us for certain?

  3. Well, it's START and I am glad to be right, as one always is. The internet has just shown its propensity for confusion. I looked on Google and found the place divided between 'starts' and 'begins'. The ONLY way is to look at the actual book, which several people have now done for me, so I can report without any fear of contradiction! Huzzah!

  4. Thanks, Adele! I shall change the piece, above, but leave these comments for everyone to see how clever you are.