Thursday, July 30, 2009

In the Night Kitchen ~ Guest Post by Sweet Pea and Beans

Next up in this week of awesomeness is my NUMBER ONE fan. Meg is a Colorado girl who blogs about her family, her sons, and most recently, her incredible choice to move away from big city life to her rural, childhood home. She is the reader who sends heartfelt asides when my blogging reflects a particularly exhausting day. The girl who sends gifts and invites me into her world as much as I've invited readers into my own. Seriously, she often gives me more love than my own family does. Every blogger should have a cheerleader and a friend as enthusiastic as her. That said, offer up a big welcome as she opens up about one of her family's favorite reads. She's a keeper, that one. Comment on this post before midnight tonight and be entered to win your very own slightly-loved copies of Pierre: A Cautionary Tale and Where the Wild Things Are. Will announce a winner tomorrow. The winner of yesterday's give is Dan Pinto. E-mail me at web(at)soon(dot)com. Bye. ~ ScribblerIn the Night Kitchen
Maurice Sendak ~ Harper & Row, 1979

I am so thrilled to be included in this second anniversary celebration for one of my favorite blogs authored by one of my favorite bloggers. I found Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves some time ago on a new-to-me blog… Design Mom (obviously I was new to blogging). I became simply smitten when I read Scribbler’s guest posts, here, here, and here, talking about something that I adore almost more than my own children… their books. I could spend hours, if not days, searching through VKBMKLs for little nuggets to share with them. I consider this blog my gateway, not only to the magic of children’s literature, but also to so many of Scribbler’s talented friends who are writers, illustrators and book enthusiasts. Thank you so much for sharing your passion with us every day, and inspiring my family to read and discover so many amazing books.

If I can stop myself from gushing for just a bit, Scribbler asked if I would like to share a smidge about one of our favorite vintage kids' books, In The Night Kitchen. In many ways, I see the spirit of Mickey in my two boys. He is an inventive, strong-willed child who saves the day by being a problem solver. Like my boys, Mickey struggles to sleep. He eventually drifts away into dreams of the night kitchen where bakers mix and stir cake batter while chanting catchy phrases. As the bakers try to stir Mickey into their cake, he announces “I’m not Milk and the Milk’s not me. I’m Mickey.” Then he fashions himself an airplane out of bread dough and zooms off into the Milky Way. Mickey flies past tall buildings that are made of boxes and bottles and cooking utensils straight out of his mother’s pantry. He completes the cake by pouring milk from the lip of a giant milk bottle into the batter below. Then he slides from the night kitchen back into bed where he wakes up warm and snug. The perfect ending to a long night of adventurous dreaming!

I try very hard to look at the books my boys read from the perspective of their age and development level, and only in rare instances do I try to see them from an adult point of view. I try not to let my jaded views of the world taint their creativity and imagination. As I was researching a bit about In the Night Kitchen for this post, I will say that my childlike perspective got a little spoiled. Over the years adults have taken issue with Sendak’s illustrations of Mickey’s “privacy area”, as my 4-year-old calls it. Looking back I realized that I never read In the Night Kitchen as a child, and I now know that is a result of a rather large movement to ban it from our schools and libraries. In fact, according to the American Library Association it is still one of the most challenged books and frequently appears in the top 100 list of banned books. From my childlike perspective, Sendak’s creative world is magically illustrated with unique typography and loved by our family, not feared. I think to myself shame on adults for muddying the waters of children’s literature.

I appreciate the fact that Sendak views his own creative mind as a dark and scary place for children. Much of his work is underscored by the horrific events of the holocaust and an uneasy childhood. Each night we read stories to our children in hopes that they will drift off into their own night kitchens. We hope that magical doors will open for them and their dreamy imaginations will flourish. This doesn’t always happen as smoothly as we would like. Sendak said: "You cannot write for children. They're much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them." At the end of the day, I often sneak into their rooms and watch them as they dream their own adventurous dreams and I think of Mickey.

Sendak is a master.

Also by:
A Very Special House
Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present
Moon Jumpers
What Do You Say, Dear?
Pierre: A Cautionary Tale
Some Swell Pup
Let's Be Enemies
Chicken Soup with Rice
Lullabies and Night Songs
I'll Be You and You Be Me
Outside Over There
The Juniper Tree
Where the Wild Things Are
The Giant Story


Caryn said...

I love Maurice Sendak! Scribbler, I've been meaning to tell you that I've been following for a while and thanks for introducing me to the Ruth Krauss/Maurice Sendak books. I found "A Hole is to Dig" at a used bookstore for 50 cents last week and was ecstatic! Thank you for feeding my lovely obsession for children's books!

H. Rosey said...

I have In the Night Kitchen on VHS narrated by Peter Scickele along with Where the Wild Things Are and The Nutshell Kids and it is one of my daughters favorites! I would also like to thank you for your post on Terrible Yellow Eyes! The art work blows my mind.....

A said...

I had to google to learn about the controversy. When I did, I found a video of James Gandolfini reading it. What a treat!

Mikelle Smith said...

My dear friend Meghan has opened my eyes to your blog and to reading in general to my kids. To not be afraid to try new things and new books. To think outside of the box. Great post Meg your writing continues to amaze me each day. Dear Scribbler thank you for having this website. It is an awesome website I check it often to find new and unusual things to read to my kids. BTW have you ever heard of Ziggy and his Colors by Frans Van Lamsweezde? My son loves this book....definately fits the 70's I must say with Pink Elephants and Mushrooms of all colors in the forest....

loft2dwell said...

I love this book and Maurice Sendak. So fun!

Celeste said...

I just love Sendak's perspective on children--they are complicated indeed!

Antmusic said...

I have the coloring book version of this book, and my son still loves it! Thank you for reviewing it!

wmmahaney said...

We would love to add this to our library. I had a wonderful time on Tuesday exploring the children's book area at several second hand stores. I found several wonderful treasures that were purchased to start some new moms off with some great books. Thanks for your wonderful blog. said...

Great post, Sweet Pea and Beans!

Love this book and haven't yet shared it with Rowan - will have to do so.

Summer Edward said...

I find that quote by Sendak really interesting. It's amongst one of my top insightful quotes about writing for children by children's authors. Another is C.S. Lewis quotes at the beginning of The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe: "Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." (Or reviewing them!) I recently reviewed Where The Wild Things Are on my blog; can't wait till the movie comes out! Great post!

Unknown said...

What a neat book!

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