20 Bad Books To Give To Young Kids

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(Image via Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books)

7. Outside Over There

Maurice Sendak probably deserves a few spots on this list. The illustrator and writer created Where the Wild Things Are, the mega-hit children’s book that simultaneously charmed and spooked many children since its publication in 1963. His illustrations are gorgeously rendered, but with a dark edge that keeps them from descending into sentimentality. His stories, likewise, end well, but not before putting their young protagonists in real or imagined peril.

While I highly recommend Where the Wild Things Are, I’m really here to talk about Outside Over There. This book follows Ida, a young girl who is tasked with watching her baby sister. Ida is not too keen and the task and prefers to play her horn. One night, while she’s practicing and not paying attention to her duties, goblins sneak in and steal her baby sister.

Ida realizes the theft when she cradles what appears to be her sister, but discovers that it is a quickly-melting ice facsimile. Ida sets off to rescue her sister but, because she exits the window backward, she enters Outside Over There. In this strange world, she must use her wits and horn-playing skills to save her sibling.

Sendak based the story partially on the Lindbergh kidnapping, in which the young son of aviator Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped from his own home. Unlike the young girl in Outside Over There, Lindbergh’s son did not survive. Sendak remarked that the kidnapping, which took place when he was four, made a deep impression on him. He would constantly remember that people, and children especially, were cruelly mortal.