Last night my little not yet three-year-old daughter had hallucinations from fever. She saw a tall boy in the hallway and tiny creatures coming out at the walls climbing all over her body. She was wide-eyed, immersed in a completely separate reality from mine, and I admit that I was nearly as frightened by what she was seeing as she was. It took both Josh and I and all the lights to talk to her until her fever broke, a few hours into this waking nightmare.
Recently one of those "list your top 10" questionnaires circulated amongst my Facebook friends; the prompt was to write down ten books that have influenced and remained with you over time. Didn't have to be your favorite book, and you were not supposed to think about it critically or curate your list in any way. I was surprised to see so many of my friends, among them some of my most thoughtful friends, list Where the Wild Things Are. This phenomenon (and it was a phenomenon, people. It was listed repeatedly) led me to read up a little on the background of this book, which I remember well myself. I found out that the book was banned in many libraries and schools after it was released, chiefly for being too scary. Interestingly, kids seemed to enjoy, or at the very least thrill in Max's dark adventure. Because the kids sought it out with kid-like fervor, the grownups relaxed and let it into the fold again, where it eventually won the Caldecott Medal, among other awards.
As I write this, little Iona is sleeping soundly in her bed. We came downstairs at 4 for some "honey tea" and chicken noodle soup. She was chatty and perfect, if rather snotty. We talked about the spiders and the little creatures for a while. I didn't try to tell her that they weren't real anymore. Instead, I the grownup relaxed and let them be whatever they were. We read a couple of stories and she went peacefully among the wild things.