Author: Maurice Sendak
Genre: Food / Humor / Dream
Year Published: 1970
Year Read: 1992
Publisher: Red Fox
Content Rating: Ages 5+ (Some Child Nudity)
“In the Night Kitchen” is a follow-up of Maurice Sendak’s famous children’s book, “Where the Wild Things Are” and has also received the distinguished Caldecott Honor Book Award. “In the Night Kitchen” is also one of the most controversial books in history due to many images of Mickey being naked during his dream trip to the Night Kitchen. This book details the adventures of a small boy named Mickey who journeys to the Night Kitchen and meets three unusual cooks and eventually saves the day for everyone who eats cake in the mornings. Maurice Sendak’s surreal storyline and creative illustrations makes this book an instant treat to read.
Maurice Sendak’s surreal story and even more creative and beautiful illustrations, combine effectively in this book as they both delightfully detail Mickey’s adventures in the Night Kitchen. First of all, the story is beautifully surreal as it takes place in a strange dream world where milk cartons and food jars take place as buildings and the three bakers, who are always smiling and speaking in lyrical prose, occupy the population of this strange world. Also, Mickey’s descent into the Night Kitchen is extremely bizarre as he seems like he is a ghost when he falls through the ceilings and the floor, which clearly indicates that this was all a dream. Maurice Sendak’s illustrations are as creative as they are beautiful. He illustrates the Night Kitchen as a colorful world where the sky is full of white stars and food labels on various jars and cartons provide a colorful background. I love the way that Maurice Sendak contrasts the Night Kitchen from Mickey’s world as Mickey’s house is mostly a brown and red color making it seem like a boring place to be, while the Night Kitchen is a colorful world and seems like a lively place to be at. Also, the three bakers in white are truly mind-blowing as they are portrayed as happy, moustache looking men in chubby bodies and tall hats.
Parents should know that this book is controversial for a good reason. There is a brief scene of nudity in this book involving the title character, Mickey. For a fictional character, Mickey’s “private area” being exposed will definitely cause concern for many parents who want to read basic children’s stories to their kids. Also, many pages in this book have Mickey mostly nude and because of this reason, this book has been extremely controversial for many years. Parents who do not want their children to know about nudity at such a young age might want to steer away from this book since it has many nudity scenes.
“In the Night Kitchen” is an extremely unique and beautiful book about the wonders of the dream world and will surely captivate many children’s hearts just as “Where the Wild Things Are” has for many years. I would strongly recommend this book to children ages five years and older because the surreal plot may confuse many small children and the nudity scenes might not be appropriate for children ages four and under.
REASON FOR BEING BANNED: For showing an image of Mickey being naked.
* 1971 Caldecott Honor