Outside Over There

Outside Over There

by Maurice Sendak

New York: HarperCollins, 1981

40 pp.

Ages: 4+

Interests: magic, goblins, babies, babysitting, siblings

A dreamily detached tale of a distracted babysitter and an infant spirited away by goblins. As Papa is away at sea and Mama sits looking rather despondent in the arbor, Ida is left to watch her baby sister. While she plays her wonder horn, not watching, small mysterious figures carry the babe out the window and leave another behind, all made of ice. When Ida discovers the switch (only after it melts), she wraps herself in a voluminous yellow cloak and flies out the window in pursuit. When she discovers their cave, the goblins all look like babies and she must play her horn to make them dance and discover which one is her sister.

This is a strange, enchanting story. The heroine Ida is inattentive but rises to the challenge, with her own secret magic up her sleeve. The illustrations are odd and unsettling, with elements and details inspired by Renaissance and Medieval paintings. Mysteries abound on every page, in the dense illustrations as well as in the spare text. Sendak is successfully drawing upon the dark uncertainty of ancient myths and fairy tales here. I don’t claim to understand it, entirely, but it is rather hypnotic.

(This title on amazon.)

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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