Banned Books Week—In the Night Kitchen
September 27, 2011 1 Comment
In honor of Banned Books Week, our staff will be sharing their experiences with banned books, and at the end of the week, we’ll give away a copy of Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection to one of our randomly selected blog subscribers. To enter the giveaway, just subscribe to our blog via the e-mail subscription link. To enter additional times, you can blog, tweet, or update your status on Facebook with a link over to the giveaway (tag @FulcrumBooks on Twitter and @FulcrumPublishing on Facebook), or “like” Fulcrum Publishing on Facebook! Just be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry and leave the link to each one. The contest ends on October 3.
Today’s blog post is from our special sales manager, Ingrid Estell.
In the Night Kitchen (978-0-06-026668-4) by Maurice Sendak was published in 1970 and received well-deserved honors: 1971 Caldecott Honor Book, Best Books of 1970 (School Library Journal), Best Illustrated Children’s Books, and Children’s Books of 1970 (Library of Congress), just to list a few. It also weathered protests: how could a children’s picture book depict a naked child? And from the same and other detractors, how could cake be advocated for breakfast? While I’m not sure Sendak advocates for anything but a magical expression of the world as children see it, I would have loved cake for breakfast in 1970. I was the perfect age to enjoy In the Night Kitchen then, but I didn’t have the book read to me and it certainly wasn’t in the small-town elementary school I attended.
My earliest recollection of Sendak’s work dates to 1975 when I read Where the Wild Things Are to my brother ten years younger than me. It would be another ten years before I read a copy of In the Night Kitchen. Not long after my daughter was born, I purchased a set of Maurice Sendak books for her. I was attending college and had taken children’s literature classes, had discussed various banned books, and had discovered my small-town library did not have a copy of In the Night Kitchen, nor had it ever had one.
With what lewdness had Sendak drawn his character Mickey? I was curious to see, as I had my own small child. The first time I opened In the Night Kitchen, I entered a wonderful dreamworld of a little boy in a baker’s kitchen. I happily followed along as Mickey floats from panel to panel, discovering the night kitchen. As the dream progresses, Mickey’s pajamas float here and there, and he’s left, for a page or two, tastefully and in not much detail, naked. This was it? This was what all the fuss was about?
As I mentioned before, I attended a small-town school and that small town was in a very rural area. I grew up outside that small town on a dryland farm, and most of the kids I knew grew up on farms or ranches. Without exception, we all knew what body parts went with what gender, not just for people, but for animals too. The little boy penis in Sendak’s book was a lot less “shocking and disturbing” (to use a phrase applied to In the Night Kitchen) than dairy cow propagation at the local 4-H meeting.
I still laugh to think of what the schoolteachers and librarians were trying to protect me and the other local children from. Thankfully, I finally discovered the book on my own and enjoyed it with my two children. Buy a banned book this week. Read and learn to decide for yourself!
Ingrid Estell is Fulcrum’s special sales manager and places Fulcrum’s titles with museums, state and national park stores, and many others. In her time away from the office, she enjoys skiing, hiking, and white-water rafting.
- Banned Books Week—The Catcher in the Rye (fulcrumbookblog.com)
- Where’s Waldo, The Hitler Version (googlingtheholocaust.wordpress.com)
- Maurice Sendak releases new book at age 83 (cbc.ca)
- Maurice Sendak Defends ‘Scary’ New Book (inquisitr.com)