Where the Wild Things Are
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"Where the Wild Things Are" Summary

By Maurice Sendak

childrens | 48 pages | Published in 1988

In the forty years since Max first cried "Let the wild rumpus start," Maurice Sendak's classic picture book has become one of the most highly acclaimed and best-loved children's books of all time. Now, in celebration of this special anniversary, introduce a new generation to Max's imaginative journey to where the wild things are.

Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A mischievous boy named Max travels to a land of wild creatures and becomes their king.


Welcome to the summary of the beloved children's book, "Where the Wild Things Are"! Written by Maurice Sendak, this classic tale captures the imagination of children and adults alike. In this article, we will explore the enchanting plot, delve into the main characters, discuss the underlying themes and insights, and provide a reader's takeaway from this timeless story.

Brief Synopsis

"Where the Wild Things Are" takes readers on a whimsical journey into the imagination of a young boy named Max. Set in the comfort of Max's own bedroom, the story transports us to a world of fantasy and adventure.

Max, wearing his iconic wolf costume, misbehaves and is sent to his room without supper. Alone in his room, Max's imagination runs wild. Suddenly, his room transforms into a forest, and an ocean appears at his feet. Max sails across the sea to a mysterious island inhabited by enormous and ferocious creatures known as the Wild Things.

The Wild Things initially threaten and intimidate Max, but he quickly asserts himself as the king of the Wild Things, gaining their respect and friendship. Max leads the Wild Things in wild rumpus and they indulge in a frenzy of fun. Eventually, Max realizes he misses his home and family, and decides to return.

Returning to his room, Max finds his supper waiting for him, still hot. This heartwarming ending reassures readers that even after a wild adventure, home is always a welcoming place.

Main Characters

Let's meet the main characters of "Where the Wild Things Are":

MaxThe imaginative and mischievous young boy who embarks on an extraordinary journey.
Wild ThingsEnormous, ferocious, and somewhat intimidating creatures who inhabit the island Max discovers.

Summary of Story Points

Chapter 1: Max's Mischievousness

  • Max's mischievous behavior leads to his mother sending him to his room without supper.

Chapter 2: Max's Imaginative Transformation

  • Alone in his room, Max's imagination comes alive as his room turns into a forest and the ocean appears.

Chapter 3: The Island of the Wild Things

  • Max sails across the vast ocean to an island inhabited by the Wild Things.

Chapter 4: Becoming the King of the Wild Things

  • Max confronts and tames the Wild Things, eventually becoming their king.

Chapter 5: The Wild Rumpus

  • Max and the Wild Things engage in a wild rumpus, indulging in their wild and playful natures.

Chapter 6: The Longing for Home

  • After all the fun and excitement, Max starts to miss his home and family.

Chapter 7: Return to the Comfort of Home

  • Max decides to leave the island and returns to his room, where his supper awaits him.

Main Events

  1. Max's misbehavior leads to his punishment of being sent to his room without supper.
  2. Max's imaginary journey begins as his room transforms into a forest.
  3. Max discovers a strange island inhabited by the Wild Things.
  4. Max asserts himself as their king and gains their respect and friendship.
  5. The Wild Things join Max in a wild rumpus.
  6. Max starts to feel homesick and decides to return home.
  7. Max returns to his room to find his supper waiting for him.

Themes and Insights

Imagination and Creativity: "Where the Wild Things Are" celebrates the power of imagination in children. Max's imagination takes him on a thrilling adventure and helps him cope with his emotions.

Escapism: Max's journey to the island of the Wild Things can be seen as an escape from the realities and rules of his everyday life. It allows him the freedom to be wild and uninhibited.

The Importance of Home: Despite the excitement and fun on the island, Max ultimately realizes that home is where he belongs. This theme highlights the comfort and love found within the familiar surroundings of one's own home.

Emotional Expression: Through the story, Max's emotions are portrayed vividly. "Where the Wild Things Are" encourages children to acknowledge and express their feelings, even the more challenging ones, in a healthy and constructive way.

Reader's Takeaway

"Where the Wild Things Are" encourages readers, both young and old, to embrace their imagination, explore their emotions, and find comfort in the love and familiarity of home. This beloved story teaches us that it's okay to let our inner wild things out sometimes, but ultimately, our home is a place of safety and belonging.

As readers follow Max's journey, they are reminded of the power of imagination and the importance of expressing emotions. This timeless tale serves as a gentle reminder for both children and adults to nurture their creativity, face their feelings, and appreciate the love and security provided by their own homes.


"Where the Wild Things Are" remains a beloved classic for its enchanting story and beautiful illustrations. Maurice Sendak's tale captivates readers with its imaginative journey and relatable themes. Through Max's wild adventure, readers are reminded of the power of imagination, the value of emotional expression, and the significance of finding solace in the familiar comfort of home.

Where the Wild Things Are FAQ

  1. What is the plot of 'Where the Wild Things Are'?

    The book follows the story of a young boy named Max who, after causing mischief at home, is sent to bed without supper. In his room, he imagines a journey to an island inhabited by wild creatures, the Wild Things. He becomes their king but eventually decides to return home.

  2. What age group is 'Where the Wild Things Are' suitable for?

    The book is generally recommended for children aged 4-8 years old, but it can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

  3. Is 'Where the Wild Things Are' a picture book?

    Yes, 'Where the Wild Things Are' is a picture book with beautifully illustrated pages that complement the storytelling.

  4. What are the major themes in 'Where the Wild Things Are'?

    The book explores themes of imagination, adventure, childhood emotions, and the comfort of returning home. It also touches on the idea of the wild things representing different aspects of Max's feelings.

  5. Has 'Where the Wild Things Are' won any awards?

    Yes, 'Where the Wild Things Are' won the Caldecott Medal in 1964, which is awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.