Creating a narrative for a children’s book is difficult. You have to ask a lot of questions about your story; has it been done before? Is it similar to another narrative? Is it compelling enough for children to read? Will children understand the story? To aid my search for a strong narrative for children, I’ve decided to look through stories that I grew up with, and stories that I feel hold a strong narrative.
In my opinion, you simply cannot talk about children’s narrative without mentioning the charming work of Maurice Sendak. His 48-page story about Max has inspired children since its 1963 publication date, through it we follow a naughty child around his imagination after he is told off by his mother. There have been many adaptations over the years, but none beat the beautiful picture book illustrated and written by Sendak:
The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another.
His mother called him “WILD THING!” and Max said “I’LL EAT YOU UP!” so he was sent to bed without eating anything.
That very night in Max’s room a forest grew and grew and grew, until his ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world around. An ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max and he sailed off through night and day.
In and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are.
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 until Max said “BE STILL!” and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once. They were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all and made him king of all the wild things.
“And now,” cried Max, “let the wild rumpus start!”
“Now stop!” Max said and sent the wild things off to bed without their supper. And Max the king of all the wild things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.
Then all around from far away across the world he smelled good things to eat so he gave up being king of where the wild things are.
But the wild things cried, “Oh please don’t go — we’ll eat you up – we love you so!” And Max said, “No!”
The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws, but Max stepped into his private boat and waved good-bye, and sailed back over a year. In and out of weeks and through a day and into the night of his very own room where he found his supper waiting for him - and it was still hot.
- Maurice Sendak, Where The Wild Things Are