In the story “Outside Over There” by Maurice Sendak, the phenomenally talented illustrator of “Where the Wild Things Are” and other childrens books, has his main character Ida descend into a mystical and magical world in search of her lost sister and while searching for her, finds things about both herself and those she cares for.
The illustrations in this lavish text, as with all of Sendak’s picture books, are vivid and haunting but they are not exactly what fans of Sendak’s previous enduring works might have expected from him. “Outside Over There” is quite a departure, all told, from the breakthrough 1964 Caldecott Medal winning Wild Things and it is nowhere near as controversial as “In the Night Kitchen”. Young Ida must go in search of her sister because her Papa is away at sea and her Mama is sad and despondent. It is therefore her responsibility to rescue the baby from the goblins who have apparently stolen her to make her into a goblin’s bride.
Though often overshadowed by the author’s more well known works, “Outside Over There” is the recipient of numerous awards in its own right including the 1982 Caldecott Honor Book and American Book Award, as well as the ALA Notable Children’s Books, SLJ Best Books for Spring and the New York Times’ Best Illustrated Childrens Books – all in 1981. Other honors included the Library of Congress recognition for Children’s Books of 1981 as well as that of the New York Public Library. With so many awards, Maurice Sendak was well deserving of one more – the 1996 National Medal of Arts.