How many of you own a copy of Maurice Sendak’s WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE? I own three. The one my parents got for me, the one I bought for my kids, and the one I bought (in an uninformed moment) for my children, in a French translation.
WILD THINGS was the very first book I ever “bought.” That is, I saw the title in the Scholastic SeeSaw flyer and chose it, out of all other books, as the One I Had To Have. I can look at the back cover and see that my parents handed over 95 cents for this acquisition–a lot of money when I was in first grade. It would’ve paid for milk in the cafeteria for a solid month.
But my parents said yes.
I don’t remember the moment when my teacher handed the brand new book to me, but I remember the feeling of having a shiny new book all my own delivered to my desk. There was no better feeling. Even Christmas morning paled compared to the day (every month or so) when the Scholastic books arrived at school.
I found my oldest copy yesterday and immediately sank down on the floor to read it. I thought I would only glance at the first page or two, but I was swallowed right in to the story, into its magic, into the marvelous and terrifying pictures. I recalled long hours spent staring at tiny details in the beautifully rendered illustrations. I recalled the the mortification of being sent to one’s room and the shattering prospect of No Supper. And the wild rumpus! Oh, the wonder of it all!
Decades have passed and I’m so very, very grateful that my parents kept this little paperback safe through the years. Did they perhaps remember how it held my attention? I’ll have to ask sometime. They brought it back to me with a box of Oz books, Nancy Drew mysteries, and Star Trek paperbacks. As much as I was happy to be reunited with all of these old favorites, the one that made my face light up like a menorah was Sendak’s–the one that started my personal library oh-so-long-ago.
Do you remember your first book? Do you have it still? (Or did you, like me, repurchase a copy?) I’d love to hear your story!