"And now," cried Max, "let the wild rumpus start."

This is where the Cherry family puts down Maurice Sendak's "Where The Wild Things Are" and marches, dances and howls around the living room.

"Our lab Charlie even gets into it," Aaron Cherry says. "We all do the rumpus."

Now Aaron, wife Elisabeth, 2½-year-old Aaron Jr. and 5-month-old James Cherry are rumpusing at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, where Sendak's original drawings are on exhibit in the traveling show, "Maurice Sendak Memorial Exhibit: 50 Years, Works, Reasons."

These drawings aren't found in Sendak's books, explains Children's Service Coordinator Pabby Arnold. 

"He made these for friends and fans," she says. "They're from private collections."

But it doesn't matter. All of the familiar characters are there, including Max, his fellow Wild Things and even Really Rosie, with whom Sendak collaborated with singer-songwriter Carole King.

"There's something special about 'Where The Wild Things Are,'" Elisabeth Cherry says. "The story is simple, and the illustrations draw you in."

Just as Sendak's original works draw old and young alike to the library's Children's Room.

The traveling exhibit, organized by the New York-based Opar, commemorates the 50th anniversary of "Wild Things," and has been shown in museums and libraries since 2013. It will be on display at the main library through Feb. 25.

The show features 50 works by Sendak, including six drawings he created at age 16 to illustrated William Shakespeare's "Macbeth," along with 50 quotes about Sendak's works by authors, celebrities, presidents and even Sendak's 10th-grade teacher.

Sendak died in 2012 at age 83, a year shy of the 50th anniversary of his book, which has sold some 20 million copies. "Wild Things" was only one among some 80 books he illustrated.

Sendak studied at the Art Students League in New York, where he also worked for the famed F.A.O. Schwartz toy store designing street-front windows. At the store he met legendary children's author Ursula Nordstrom, who helped him land his first job illustrating children's books.

His first book as author and illustrator was "Kenny's Window" in 1956. Then he turned children's publishing upside-down with "Where The Wild Things Are" in 1963.

Though the first impression of Max's monster friends could be scary, they were somehow appealing as was Max.

"In plain terms, a child is a complicated creature that can drive you crazy," Sendak said in an interview. "There's a cruelty to childhood, there's an anger. And I did not want to reduce Max to the trite image of the good little boy that you find in too many books."

Max's mother sends him to bed with no supper after he yells, "I'll eat you up!" when she calls him a "wild thing." Had he not acted badly, he would never have traveled to where the wild things are.

And he's made this trip beyond the pages of Sendak's book. Mingling among the author's drawings are his stage sets and costumes for an opera and ballet based on the book. Cells from a 1975 animated short based on the book also are included, along with those from Sendak's animated "In the Night Kitchen" and illustrations from his "Little Bear" book series.

And though "Little Bear" is interesting, the Cherry family is here for Max.

Elisabeth Cherry was introduced to "Where The Wild Things Are" by her mother, who was a librarian. She bought her own hardback copy before Aaron Jr. was born.

Now the Cherrys are anticipating their youngest son's first birthday party even though James is only 5 months old.

"He'll probably be a Wild Thing at his first birthday party," Aaron Cherry says.

Until then, they'll keep celebrating the wild rumpus in their living room, kids, parents and dog Charlie.


'Maurice Sendak Memorial Exhibit: 50 Years, Works, Reasons'

WHEN: Through Feb. 25

WHERE: East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd.

INFO: ebrpl.com

Follow Robin Miller on Twitter, @rmillerbr.