Where the Wild Things Are is the mirror of everybody’s bed-with-no-supper childhood wickedness. It is a classic experience captured in a classic book. But Maurice Sendak was a wild child who never grew up and a darker and funnier book, no less magnetic to children, is his In the Night Kitchen. It was a favorite read-aloud of ours with its marvelous art, explicitly naked Mickey who fell out of his PJs and into the batter in the kitchen when the rest of the household was sleeping, the giant milk bottle, and the prop plane made of cake dough.
In truth, the text is a bit druggy—it doesn’t actually make sense but who cares? Mickey is a fantastical hero from Olympus; it’s his dream so he can do whatever he likes. And he does. The bakers rely on him for a crucial missing ingredient, so Mickey flies over the Milky Way and braves some spectacular diving to bring back milk for the morning cake.
In the Night Kitchen is wacky, wonderful, incantatory and impossible, just the sort of thing that would appeal to the warped humor beloved of children and their free-spirited grown-ups. God bless the milk and God bless Mickey—and God bless Maurice Sendak, wherever he is, inspired fiend of kiddie lit. Thanks to Maurice–and Mickey–we have cake every morning.
In the Night Kitchen (Caldecott Collection) Maurice Sendak | Harper Collins 25th Anniversary Edition