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December 11, 2014

Where the Wild Things Are: Mallory Kasdan on Gifts that Create Lasting Bonds

Posted by Rebecca M

Debut author Mallory Kasdan is no stranger to the wide world of entertainment. A popular voice actor, Mallory also blogs about parenting issues and once accompanied RuPaul on a five-city book tour. Her forthcoming children's book, ELLA, tells the story of a wild and groovy six-year-old living in The Local Hotel with her pets, scooter and bursting creativity. In this Holiday Author Blog, Mallory discusses one of her favorite children's books, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, and how gifted books can create bonds that span decades and generations.

I spent my junior year of college living in Israel and attending the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. There I took English Literature, Political Science and Religion courses with renowned professors, traveled to Jordan, Egypt, Greece and other incredible spots, and failed to master speaking fluent Hebrew. I met people from all over the world, hiked quite a lot, and ate an alarming amount of hummus. I was 20 years old, and it was a fantastic time of my life.

Recently I got an email from a friend I made that year. Tomer now lives in China, but we keep up over Facebook. In the email, he sent me a photo of an inscription I wrote in a book I gave him for his 21st birthday in 1993, the year we met. The book was Maurice Sendak’s WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE translated into Hebrew (he is a fluent speaker), with a handwritten note about how I hoped someday he would read the book to his kooky children and think of me, his old pal Mal.

Naturally, I had long forgotten I had done this, and was touched to learn he kept the book for all these years --- as it moved from bookshelf to moving box to bookshelf, through college graduation to graduate school through several career moves in NYC and Chicago, and ultimately to his kid’s bedroom in Bejing! It was amazing to recognize my dorky sense of humor and same bad handwriting, and delight in the fact that he was able to share that moment with his daughter, and ultimately with me.

And this is why I love to give books as gifts. Books are offerings, birthed from author and bestowed upon reader, ushered into the world as a seed and polished from idea to development to print. By choosing to give books, we have the opportunity to filter them through our own experiences and imbue them with a new meaning. We can even will events to be true. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE had such a tremendous impact on me as a child, and now Tomer and I have shared it in an unexpected way. His daughter likely won’t understand or care about this story for a very long time, and would likely think it boring in the same way my own eight-year-old daughter might. But perhaps the book itself will resonate, and she’ll hold on to it throughout her own life, put it on shelf after shelf and someday read it to her own kooky kids. Even better, perhaps she will give it to a friend she meets along the way.