Thursday, October 30, 2008

Outside Over There

Outside Over There
Maurice Sendak ~ Harper & Row, 1981

Another one in our top five favorites of all time*... ya'll know I am a Sendak junkie, so humor me for a minute. One of my son's current faves is In the Night Kitchen which is pure genius really, but seeing as I am still featuring spooky titles... our little blog shall journey here instead. Since my son was one, his heart has belonged to Outside Over There.

The '86 Jim Henson cult favorite Labyrinth stole much from the storyline of this book, and if you look closely enough, you'll see a copy tucked away on the main character's bookshelf in the film. But, that is hardly why I adore this book. I adore this book because it is everything a children's book shouldn't be and yet is. The plot is horrifying. We meet a girl. Her father is away at sea, and her mother is distant-in-mind at best. The girl is in charge of watching over her baby sister, until one night the goblins come and steal the baby away... leaving another child made of ice in her place. That alone seems enough to give a kid nightmares for life.

Poor Ida, never knowing, hugged the changeling
and she murmured: "How I love you."
The ice thing only dripped and stared,
and Ida mad knew goblins had been there.
"They stole my sister away!" she cried,
"To be a nasty goblin's bride!"
Now Ida in a hurry
snatched her Mama's yellow rain cloak,
tucked her horn safe in pocket,
and made a serious mistake.
She climbed backwards out her window
into outside over there.

Got goosebumps yet? Immaculate is what this book is; perfect and mysterious in every possible, glorious way. Really, I could slap some peanut butter on the spine and nibble away for hours. Savouring every impeccable brush stroke, reflection and expression. I know I sound like a lovesick tween, but come on... Goblins disguised as naked little cherub babies? Poetry that reads like this?

"If Ida backwards in the rain
would only turn around again
and catch those goblins with a tune
she'd spoil their kidnap honeymoon!"

Take me out of the "Mickey oven" people, cause I'm done!!!

*You know, if I culled back through this blog and tallied the amount of times I've written those words, my "top five favorites" would probably run over 50.

Also by:
A Very Special House
Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present
Moon Jumpers
What Do You Say, Dear?
Pierre: A Cautionary Tale
Some Swell Pup
Let's Be Enemies
Chicken Soup with Rice
Lullabies and Night Songs
I'll Be You and You Be Me
The Juniper Tree
Where the Wild Things Are
Seven Little Monsters
The Giant Story


daysease said...

What GORGEOUS art? Who illustrated it? WOW.

Lou@weheartbooks said...

I'm going to have to watch Labyrinth again now to see if I can find 'Outside over there'.

mysadalterego said...

One of my all time favorites as well. Unfortunately it remained so obscure and unknown. I buy it as a gift and recommend it whenever I can.

Anonymous said...

My former spouse gave this to our oldest child who was 8 when we separated with a note asking her to "watch over her Mom and her brother and sister until he got back". But he never did come back or send support and it is 30 years later. The book is beautiful but that spoiled it for me

Anonymous said...

i have been searching for this along with a few other books from my childhood. I was so glad to have found it here! i also loved the geranium on the window sill just died but teacher you just went right on, where the wild things are (of coarse) & a few more.

The one that is escaping me now was a hardback with a top hat on the book jacket if i am remembering correctly and the book itself was solid black. I remember a sinister man in the hat - a mad magician or something and something about a rainbow...
Very vague i know but i do hope to find the title for old time sake.

Sparkina said...

Yes, the plot does sound like Labyrinth . . . but unfortunately, I don't think any of Sendak's goblins looked anything like David Bowie.

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