- And when he came to the place where the wild things are, they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws till Max said, 'Be still' and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once. And they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all and made him king of all wild things.
- Certainly we want to protect our children from new and painful experiences that are beyond their emotional comprehension and that intensify anxiety; and to a point we can prevent premature exposure to such experiences. That is obvious. But what is just as obvious - and what is too often overlooked - is the fact that from their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions, fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives, they continually cope with frustrations as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming Wild Things.
- There must be more to life than having everything!
- I believe there is no part of our lives, our adult as well as child life, when we're not fantasizing, but we prefer to relegate fantasy to children, as though it were some tomfoolery only fit for the immature minds of the young. Children do live in fantasy and reality; they move back and forth very easily in a way we no longer remember how to do.
- I wanted my wild things to be frightening. But why? It was probably at this point that I remembered how I detested my Brooklyn relatives as a small child. They came almost every Sunday, and there was my week-long anxiety about their coming the next Sunday... They'd lean way over with their bad teeth and hairy noses, and say something threatening like 'You're so cute I could eat you up.' And I knew if my mother didn't hurry up with the cooking, they probably would.
- You cannot write for children... They're much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them.
- Children are tough, though we tend to think of them as fragile. They have to be tough. Childhood is not easy. We sentimentalize children, but they know what's real and what's not. They understand metaphor and symbol. If children are different from us, they are more spontaneous. Grown-up lives have become overlaid with dross.
- We've educated children to think that spontaneity is inappropriate. Children are willing to expose themselves to experiences. We aren't. Grownups always say they protect their children, but they're really protecting themselves. Besides, you can't protect children. They know everything.
- I don't believe in things literally for children. That's a reduction.
- One of the few graces of getting old - and God knows there are few graces - is that if you've worked hard and kept your nose to the grindstone, something happens: The body gets old but the creative mechanism is refreshed, smoothed and oiled and honed. That is the grace. That is the splendid grace. And I think that is what's happening to me.
- We're animals. We're violent. We're criminal. We're not so far away from the gorillas and the apes, those beautiful creatures. So, of course. And then, we're supposed to be civilized. We're supposed to go to work every day. We're supposed to be nice to our friends and send Christmas cards to our parents. We're supposed to do all these things which trouble us deeply because it's so against what we naturally would want to do. And if I've done anything, I've had kids express themselves as they are, impolitely, lovingly - they don't mean any harm. They just don't know what the right way is. And as it turns out sometimes the so-called 'right way' is utterly the wrong way. What a monstrous confusion.
- I'm not Hans Christian Andersen. Nobody's gonna make a statue in the park with a lot of scrambling kids climbing up me. I won't have it, okay?
- I wasn't gonna paint. And I wasn't gonna do ostentatious drawings. I wasn't gonna have gallery pictures. I was gonna hide somewhere where nobody would find me and express myself entirely. I'm like a guerrilla warfare in my best books.
- I often went to bed without supper 'cause I hated my mother's cooking. So, to go to bed without supper was not a torture to me. If she was gonna hurt me, she'd make me eat.
- The strangest thing... the fan mail I get from kids are asking me questions which they do not ask their mothers and fathers. Because if they had, why write to me, a perfect stranger?
- An illustrator in my own mind - and this is not a truth of any kind - is someone who so falls in love with writing that he wishes he had written it, and the closest he can get to is illustrating it. And the next thing you learn, you have to find something unique in this book, which perhaps even the author was not entirely aware of. And that's what you hold on to, and that's what you add to the pictures: a whole Other Story that you believe in, that you think is there.
- When you hide another story in a story, that's the story I am telling the children.