'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Review: In the Night Kitchen

One of my favourite Sendak books, this divine and magical story really typifies this talented man’s work for me. From the illustrations to the typography, and the chronically imaginative and bold storyline and characters... it's love.

Little Mickey is trying to sleep. He's annoyed at noises coming from the kitchen, so he climbs out of bed and falls through the dreamlike dark, out of his clothes and into the Night Kitchen.

Who should be waiting there? Why three bakers, of course - in the style of Oliver Hardy, complete with push-broom moustache and wombly grin.

Mickey soon finds himself in the centre of a cake about to be baked but he's not having any of that. Instead he climbs out and kneads together his own bread dough aeroplane, to take off around the Night Kitchen.

Complete with wacky songs and even a cock-a-doodle-doo, I particularly love the way Sendak writes in a third person tense that's almost a cross between fable prose and newspaper reportage . . .

"Did you ever hear of Mickey, how he heard a racket in the night and shouted QUIET DOWN THERE!"

Reading this story immediately puts you snug in your bed as a tot, listening to the clanking in the kitchen as mum washes up the dishes from dinner. The muffled chatted between parents, the warm feeling of safe - as warm as a baked loaf of bread.

Dreamlike, sensual, childlike, kooky, inexplicable, beautiful.

Title: In the Night Kitchen
Author/Illustrator: Maurice Sendak
Publisher: Red Fox, $19.95 RRP
Publication Date: 6 July 2011 (this edition)
ISBN: 9780099417477
Format: Paperback
For ages: 3 - 10
Type: Picture Book