The audience was filled past capacity, to the point where they had to turn away kids who wanted to come in and hear the reading. Yet I found that the audience was mostly adults when I entered, people who, like myself, cherish this classic story.
Keener, who plays Max’s mom in the film, read first. Whitaker was next to read; he plays Wild Thing Ira in the film. The actors took turns reading the story as images from the book flashed by on a screen above their heads, allowing the children to see as well as hear the story being told. The little heads in the audience wore paper crowns just like the character Max wears, but theirs kept on falling over their eyes.
Falling hats weren’t enough to distract them however; the kids were all attentive, totally focused on the story being told. Before the reading began, the stars instructed us all to roar whenever the word roar was read. This one little girl was roaring nonstop after the room did the first roar and wouldn’t stop for most of the story. Boy, she was a screamer.
After the reading was done, the audience members were allowed to ask a few questions. That same little girl crawled up right onto the stage. Forest was laughing his head off but Catherine sat her promptly down into her chair. The kids were asking all sorts of great questions. One little boy asked what their favorite books were growing up. Keener’s response was that she pretty much only read the encyclopedia as a child. Whitaker said that “Where the Wild Things Are” was the first book that he could remember having his mom and dad read to him as a child.
One question a mother in the audience asked was how they made such a short book into such a long movie. That is actually one of my concerns. I’m afraid that an adaptation will destroy the integrity of the book. Keener answered simply that they took Max’s imagination and just went with it, because you can never stop imagination.
In the same way that I observed yesterday as a new crop of little “Wild Things” got their first taste at this classic children’s story, the upcoming movie will similarly inspire kids to use their imaginations to discover the little wild thing inside them.