University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children
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Book Title and Author: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Field of Philosophy: Metaphysics; Epistemology

Plot Summary: Max misbehaves and gets sent to his room without supper. Suddenly, a magnificent forest grows in Max’s room, and Max finds a private boat that enables him to sail forward in time. Max meets some huge monsters who live there, and he and the monsters spend time playing and doing fantastical things. Max decides that it is time to return to his home where his mother loves him best of all. Max quickly travels back in time in his boat—over a year—and returns to his room where he finds the supper that his mother left him. It’s still hot.

Some discussion questions:

Max experiences the fantastical forest and monsters as if they are real. Does that mean that the forest and monsters are real?
How do you know whether something is real or imagined?
How do you know whether or not you are dreaming right now?
Is it possible for time to go by without anything changing?
Why does time appear to move more slowly when we are doing boring things, but more rapidly when we are doing fun things? What might this suggest about the nature of time?
Try to draw a picture that represents time, and share it with the group. What are your reasons for representing time this way.
Despite the fact that Max is having fun with the monsters in the forest, he chooses to go home to be with his mother. What does this say about why Max values in life?