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In the Night Kitchen: 10/26/15

In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak: An oft-banned book, controversial not for its message but for its nudity.

In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak is a 1971 Caldecott honor book and number 24 on the American Library Association's most frequently banned or challenged books. The book is about a boy named Mickey who hears a noise in the kitchen at night and while investigating, has a surreal battle with three bakers and is nearly baked into a cake.

Because of its controversy and its imagery, In the Night Kitchen has become one of those books that is used in some college courses (though none that I've taken). I am including links to reviews that go into greater depth. The short and simple is that it's taking a horrific piece of recent history (the Holocaust) and turning into a deeply personal picture book.

For children of the 1970s or now who may not yet have heard of the Holocaust, the Hitleresque bakers and the man sized oven would just be fantastical illustrations. Only coming back to it as an older reader, would the impact be most felt.

But it's not the Holocaust references that have caused the trouble. No — it's Mickey's nudity. I guess children seeing an anatomically correct depiction of nudity in a picture book will have their brains forever broken or something. From the few children I know who've either read it themselves or had it read to them, none have commented on the nudity or even seemed to care about it.

Three stars

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