Book Review: Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen

Posted August 13, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Children's

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Maurice Sendak’s In the Night KitchenIn the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
is a Picture Book
This edition was published by HarperCollins on February 13, 1996 in hardcover and has 40 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon..


A standalone picture book with warm and cozy illustrations of a populated kitchen with an heroic Mickey dreaming to the rescue.

In 1970, In the Night Kitchen won the Best Books of 1970, Outstanding Children’s Books of 1970, Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 1970, Children’s Books of 1970 (Library of Congress), and Notable Children’s Books of 1940–1970. In 1971, it won the Caldecott Honor Book and received an Honor Citation for the Carey-Thomas Award. In 1973 and 1975, it won the Brooklyn Art Books for Children. In 1982, it won the Vlag en Wimpel Penseeljury. And it’s one of those awarded books that truly deserve it!

My Take

Just like Mickey, I was falling — into the story’s illustrations, fascinated by the “kitchen” Sendak created. I loved the buildings of pantry goodies with mixing blades, light bulb cages, and handles acting as building toppers in those warm, soft browns and reds.

The kids will get a perverse giggle out of a full-frontal Mickey landing in the cake batter *snicker*. (There is/was a lot of controversy about this and resulted in In the Night Kitchen becoming a banned book. I can understand why conservatives who react without thought would freak, but I don’t see that it’s a big deal (no pun intended *grin*) And like I said, the kids will find it funny.)

There is a lot of imagination in Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen, from its pantry-product buildings with their appliance toppers. The crazy chefs who simply see Mickey as yet another ingredient out of which he must escape. I suspect the kids will get another laugh at the idea of being baked in a cake. Makes me think of that nursery rhyme, “Sing a Song of Sixpence”, with its own version of pie, *laughing*.

See if the kids can find the inspiration for Mickey’s bread dough plane.

Yep, that Mickey’s a hero, and I did enjoy the “seals” (front and back) of a heroic Mickey in his cake batter suit!

Who knew so much went on in the kitchen at night…and why haven’t they visited me!

The Story

It’s that thump, dump, clump that wakens our hero who finds himself falling through the house only to land in a bowl of cake batter. At least it’s a soft landing!

It’s up to our hero to retrieve the missing ingredient. Or else there will be no cake in the morning!

The Characters

Mickey is a child who had been sleeping in his bed until woken by a thump in the night.

A triplet of fat, happy chefs with mustaches all decked out in their cooking whites and hats.

The Cover and Title

The cover is warm and cozy browns with Mickey wearing a milk pitcher on his head and cake batter as a flying suit, soaring in his bread dough airplane over the “city” skyline of beans, bread, cream, cake, and 10¢ coupons. The title is a muted burgundy at the top, arching over the author’s name in cocoa brown.

The title is what Mickey discovers In the Night Kitchen.


Leave a Reply