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In the Night Kitchen (Caldecott Collection) Hardcover – January 18, 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 268 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When asked, Maurice Sendak insisted that he was not a comics artist, but an illustrator. However, it's hard to not notice comics aspects in works like In the Night Kitchen. The child of the story is depicted floating from panel to panel as he drifts through the fantastic dream world of the bakers' kitchen. Sendak's use of multiple panels and integrated hand-lettered text is an interesting contrast to his more traditional children's books containing single-page illustrations such as his wildly popular Where the Wild Things Are.


The story of Mickey's nighttime adventure in the bakers' kitchen is "a highly original dream fantasy [with] deliciously playful illustrations [and a] chantable, easily remembered text. Pure delight for young children."--"BL." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Series: Caldecott Collection
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Anv edition (January 18, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060266686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060266684
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (268 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I didn't want to give this book five stars. I fought against it, because I don't particularly enjoy the book. The illustrations aren't that attractive to me and it took me a while to get used to the rhythm of the words.
Having said that, I give this book five stars because my daughter LOVES this book. I sometimes have to hide it at night because I'm so tired of reading the "Mickey" book. Apparently Sendak knows an awful lot about what children like and how their minds work, because my daughter seldom tires of the story. (Her favorite part is when Mickey takes the measuring cup and goes up and up over the Milky Way.)
I'm honestly a little surprised over the "nekkid" controversy. It's not like the boy is drawn in explicit detail! My daughter's seen boy babies getting their diapers changed, so the concept of a penis is HARDLY frightening/startling/damaging to her. Geez, lighten up people!
Also, for those who were complaining about the concept of cake for breakfast, why don't we consider how many American children get French toast, pancakes, donuts, poptarts, or sugar-coated cereals for breakfast? Hardly nutritionally superior to cake, so I'm not lying in bed at night obsessing about the poor nutritional messages this book is sending to my child. :-)
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Format: Hardcover
At age four or five I deemed this the greatest picture book ever, and in almost 30 years I have never changed my mind. Every aspect of it is so beautiful and inspired, from the surreal color tones and the supple, flowing line to the swift yet dreamlike pace. But just as impressive is its plot.
Mickey's journey is startling, evocative, and totally convincing as a dream. His story gets deep under your skin because Sendak plays with the tension between some of the most powerful oppositions in childhood: the unknown versus the familiar, vulnerability versus security, dependence versus empowerment, creativity versus consumption. Yet the tone is light, playful, and encouraging.
Besides being a joyous read, this book is perfect for the developing mind because it encourages physical creativity to solve problems: the scene in which Mickey molds the cake-batter into an airplane is pure genius. And his actions blend surrealism, initiative, altruism, and a celebration of the self in a way that no other picture book I've ever seen has. Children will be deeply and wonderfully affected, even if it takes them years to figure out why.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"In The Night Kitchen" is the bizarre, surreal story of Mickey and his journey into the mysterious night kitchen where bakers are preparing the 'morning cake.' Mickey is the savior of the story getting the key ingredient, Milk, for the bakers to complete the cakes. Like "Where the Wild Things Are," "In The Night Kitchen" is the dream of the main character. Where Max's room turns into a jungle, Mickey "falls/ floats" down through his room into the fantastical kitchen-world that appears to be below his house. The story is a child's dream. It is not supposed to make perfect sense to adult minds. In all honesty, the book seemed a little weird and disjointed to me at first. But my son instantly loved it. He is now 3.5 and we have been reading this book to him pretty consistently for about a year and a half now. He still loves it. It grew on me as well. The subtleties in the art are very well placed, more so than "Where the Wild Things Are." If you realize the book is just the surreal journey of a child's dream you may not get weirded out by it, and may begin to appreciate the book for what it is, a great child's story. As mentioned, Mickey does get naked as he transitions from his bedroom to the night kitchen and into his 'dough-suit,' then again as he transitions back to his house. As it seems a lot of people get stuck on this one facet of the book. Chances are if a child being naked in a children's book makes you uncomfortable, you probably won't like this one for you kids and should probably just avoid it.
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Format: Hardcover
Sometimes my job as a children's librarian leads me to think one way or another about a book. For example, if I discover that a book has been banned by a school or public library somewhere, that same book acquires all sorts of interest that it might never have gotten before. "In the Night Kitchen" is one such book. Banned for the nudity of its main character this title has always been considered the second rung in Maurice Sendak's creative and artistic trio (the first being "Where the Wild Things Are" and the third "Outside Over There"). Fuddy-duddy adults everywhere are consistently and predictably shocked by Mickey, the young protagonist who prefers to experience his adventures au naturale. By all rights I should enjoy this book. It has everything going for it! It has been banned, it's by the greatest living children's author today, it is considered a classic, and some of the newest reissues of it are breathtakingly gorgeous. I mean, they just don't reprint books like this twenty-fifth anniversary edition no more. That said, it's probably my least favorite Sendak creation. Sad isn't it? Though I'll fight to the death to keep this book on library shelves everywhere, I must admit that I don't much like it myself. It all just comes down to individual taste.

One night, Mickey hears an awful racket and by a process of falling and clothing removal finds himself in cake batter. The cake batter is in a gigantic bowl tended by three cooks who each bear a striking resemblance to Oliver Hardy. Mistaking Mickey for milk (it could happen to anyone) they mix the batter up with him in it and pop it into the oven. The baking doesn't work though and Mickey, now clothed in a suit of cake batter, fashions a small bi-plane out of bread dough.
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