Growing up in the rural Midwest, my family had to pay the yearly membership fee to use the local library and man, did we all get our money's worth! While I found our library to be a great place to find books and movies, my ravenous appetite for books had not yet been developed. That all changed when I randomly added "Outside Over There" by Maurice Sendak to my basket.
I remember thinking it was strange, and a little creepy, and more real than any children's book I had ever read. A children's book where the baby sister is not only kidnapped by goblins to become a goblin bride, but replaced in her cradle by an ice baby. It was the image of the ice baby that stuck with me. While a kidnapping in a children's book wasn't something I read every day, it made for an intriguing story, and according to Wikipedia, the media consciousness of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping was something that lodged in the mind of four-year-old Maurice Sendak, and he credits that tragedy with the inspiration for the story.
I was an only child when I read "Outside Over There," so I did not grasp the concept of the devoted older sister taking on a perilous journey to rescue her kidnapped sister. When I was several years older and had a baby sister of my own, I watched the movie "Labyrinth," which Jim Henson credits as being inspired by "Outside Over There" and even thanks Sendak in the credits of the film. I found the story had a whole new meaning when I pictured my beloved baby sister being carried off by goblins.
Throughout my childhood I worked my way through every Sendak book I could get my hands on, each and every one of them sparking my imagination and planting seeds of great stories to come, but none has haunted me (much to my delight) quite like "Outside Over There."
--Cori C., Sachs Branch