Upon rereading, I don’t even know what to say about this one. I remember loving it, I remember loving the rough textured cover interrupted by a big circle seal in the center, but I don’t remember what it was about the story that I liked. Because it seems bizarre now.
In the Night Kitchen starts out pretty normal: a boy in bed at night, who hears a noise in the darkness. Then there’s an Alice in Wonderland scene where he falls down past lots of things, but for some reason he loses his clothes, and then he falls into a bowl of bread dough.
I suppose at this point, we realize that the boy is dreaming. And the story definitely has the strangeness of a dream: set on a kitchen countertop, cooks attempt to make him into a cake, but then he pops out, takes some bread dough and shapes it into a plane, and then flies away.
In case you forgot, he’s naked during the entire book, which apparently caused some controversy.
Of course, when I realize that the author/illustrator is Maurice Sendak, who also wrote Where the Wild Things Are, the strangeness of the story suddenly becomes more whimsical than weird.
P.S. Check out the links if you want to know more about the author, and his intentions with his books. He vowed not to write stories about sunshine and rainbows, because that’s not real life. He was also interviewed on Colbert. They talk about penises. (And here’s part two.)