Christopher’s Choice: Each week, C gets four or five books out of the library, and picks one as his favourite, and I review it. This is this week’s choice.
POINTS: 3 out of 10.
Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story: 2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 1 point
The most striking thing about this book is how utterly beautiful it is. The illustrations are just totally lush and gorgeous. I will say, however, that I feel like the author read “Where the Wild Things Are” a lot. It definitely has elements in common with Sendak’s masterpiece: the voyage to the wild, the return to the childhood bedroom.
But at its heart, this is a story about being brave, and how bravery is actually more often really scary, and consists of facing up to that fear rather than not being afraid at all. Richard is afraid of the monsters in his room, and he runs away from them, finding himself in a magical wilderness where his toy lion (Lionheart) is a real lion, and where he can befriend and explore with all the wild beings that live there.
The monster follows however, and eventually Richard has to face him. When this happens, of course, the monster disappears, helpless in the face of someone bravely standing their ground.
It’s not exactly a surprising tale – it’s pretty clear where it’s going from the start – but I think it’s very effectively pulled off. And like I said, oh my god so beautiful.
As far as our metrics go, the only human character is a young white boy-child, so there’s no diversity or feminism happening here. It’s pretty much a bog standard ‘default’. But there’s a lot to be said for a tale about facing your fears and being brave, and I am always a sucker for the message that bravery is just facing the darkness rather than being unafraid. So it gets points for that.
C and I both loved it though – he enjoyed the animals, and the simplicity of the tale, I was captivated by the imagery. Good stuff. Worth a read.