Maurice Sendak is mostly known to the North American public for his book Where The Wild Things Are. It’s been adapted into a live action film, an animated short, and even an opera. It’s fascinating for a child, and quite rich in colour, texture, and detail. But that’s not the book that holds the place in my heart as my favourite picture book. Another Sendak book holds that honour: The less well-known but equally amazing Outside Over There.
Outside Over There is credited with partially inspiring the Jim Henson film Labyrinth, another childhood staple of mine: Both stories concern a young girl who neglects her caretaking duties for a younger sibling and then must rescue the infant from goblins who kidnap the child. When mom brought this book home for me, I had just acquired a new sibling of my own, and I think mom was hoping this story would plant the seeds of sisterly responsibility in me, so I would take care of my sister, rather than being like Ida, off to play my wonder horn.
What drew me most to Outside Over There again and again though, wasn’t just the heroic story of Ida rescuing her baby sibling and returning home triumphant: It was the brilliant illustrations, with rich colour and detailed fabric folding I only saw again as an adult in the art of Tamara De Lempicka. I wanted to hop right into the story and be there with Ida on her brave journey.
I wish I had a copy of this book with me now, the nostalgia is pouring down thick like honey from this meme.