Unease. Disquiet. Anxiety. Not the usual payoffs you find in children’s picture books, unless the author’s name is Grimm. Or Sendak.

Outside Over There is the third of Maurice Sendak’s self-described trilogy, which includes Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen. Stylistically, I see no similarity, but according to Sendak, “They are all variations on the same theme: how children master various feelings – danger, boredom, fear, frustration, jealousy – and manage to come to grips with the realities of their lives.” Uh oh. Are these things supposed to go away with the onset of adulthood? Some of us retain a level of unease with the world that is mirrored and acknowledged in books like Outside Over There. Is that bad?

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