May 8, 2012

I was teaching first-year writing at the University of Notre Dame. The room was lit only by the snatches of dull, grey light from the two small windows and the glow of my students' monitors. They were working on their papers in class. I was there to help them when they had questions. How to address comments I'd written on earlier drafts, how to cite something, how to prove their point sufficiently or transition from one thing to the next.

If I'm working on something, I don't do interruptions well. So, I had nothing to work on. My job was to be available to them the instant they needed something. So, I perused my favourite toys website: RTM. There, in full colour, glorious in a way I'd never seen any other toy:

Where the Wild Things Are

Sketch of Max - Where the Wild Things Are

I gasped. A student walked up for help, saw my expression and was puzzled.

"What's that?" he asked.

"Where the Wild Things Are action figures."

Blank stare.

I was appalled. How could anyone not know this book? Not know Maurice Sendak's work?

The day before Spring Break, I brought the figures and the book in to class. I ended class early and told my students, "you are free to go if you want. But if you've never seen this book before, I hope you'll stay."

We sat down on the floor in the front of the classroom, for all the world like an overgrown kindergarten class, and I read to them about Max and about the wild things. We roared terrible roars and gnashed terrible teeth. We rolled terrible eyes and showed terrible claws.

We sailed back over a year

and in and out of weeks

and through a day

and into the night of our very own rooms

where we found our supper waiting

and it was still hot.

And some of my students rolled their eyes, a few left, but a bigger chunk of them than I had expected at a school where the students prided themselves on being above anything "childish," a lot of them stayed and enjoyed the book. Some for the first time, some quite obviously for the millionth time as they mouthed most of the words along with me.

A brilliant, dark light has gone out of the universe and we are the poorer for it.

Sketch of Max waving goodbye

Sorry, blog software still uninstalled, so no comments. You can hit me up through the contact form at the top if you want to let me know what you think. I'll manually publish comments if you indicate you want me to do so.

Posted by Red Monkey at May 8, 2012 3:35 PM | Sketches | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

Free Pixel Advertisement for your blog