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Who the Wild Things Are

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Philip Glassborow explores the origins of Maurice Sendak's classic children's book Where the Wild Things Are.

The creatures in the book have beaks, claws, fangs and scales, but who exactly are they and why has Max's journey to them fascinated so many children and adults since it first appeared in the early 1960s?

Philip looks at the origins of the book and its scary yet loveable heroes. Did it grow out of Sendak's sickly childhood, the stories told to him by his father, comments made by his foreign-sounding aunts and uncles (their hairy nostrils and warty faces peering down and declaring 'you're so good I could eat you up!'), his relationship with his editor, or some far deeper source?

Glassborow talks with Sendak's British editor and to the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Tony Kushner. He discovers that in all the extensive press, radio and television coverage, nobody seems to have consulted Sendak's target audience - children. Putting this to rights, he soon finds that angry mothers and fathers with big hairy feet both feature in their interpretations.

The programme features a reading by Henry Goodman and extensive use of Jewish Klezmer music.
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