Tuesday, April 24, 2007

milk in the batter! milk in the batter!

in the Night Kitchen was written and drawn by Maurice "Where the wild things are" Sendak, and is the only book to appear twice in long consecutive night reading short lists( I usually only allow 2 books to be read before tucking the little tired tyke into bed).
Here is a brief synopsis almost in its entirety as it appears in its wikipedia entry:

"He(Mikey) falls into a giant mixing pot that has the batter for the morning cake. While Mickey is buried in the mass, three identical bakers, all strongly resembling Oliver Hardy, mix the batter and prepare it for baking while unaware (or unconcerned) that there is a boy inside. As the bakers are about put it in the oven, Mickey emerges protesting that he is not the batter's milk.
To make up for the baking ingredient deficiency, Mickey (now wearing a bodysuit of batter from the neck down) constructs a working airplane out of dough to reach the mouth of a gigantic milk bottle. Using the plane, he flies up to the bottle's opening and dives in. After briefly revelling inside the liquid as his covering of batter disintegrates, he pours the needed milk in a cascade down to the bakers who joyfully finish making the morning cake.
With the dawn breaking, the naked Mickey crows like a rooster and slides down the bottle to magically return to his bed, with everything back to normal beyond the happy memory of his experience."

There is also a cartoon wonderfully directed by Gene Deitch and animated by some wonderful Czech animators for Weston Woods series of animated picture books, available on dvd. The cartoon incorporates some hot jazz in which the Oliver Hardy characters or maybe Maurice Sendak might have been thinking of Paul Whiteman, the bandleader who was the self proclaimed "King of Jazz" who looks very much like Oliver Hardy, and Mikey sing the text of the book. But that is not all, no, no that is not all, to quote Dr. Seuss. It has the honour of being number 25 on the top 100 list of most frequently challenged books for 1990-2000. I guess 3 year olds cannot appear nude in a 3 year olds dream sequence in a picture book which is being read to 3 year olds??? Give me a break folks!!!! It is the opinion of this blogger that the ones who decided to challenge it must not remember what 3 year olds are like, must not remember themselves as a 3 year old, or other 3 year old children in their family, etc. The only issue that comes up with me is: is Mikey potty trained??? I sure hope he is!
Oh yeah, and maybe because it seems to me that maybe Mikey is not circumcised( or was that the artists decision- simplifying the drawn image of the penis. Whats that? I cannot say penis??? Prude folk, who paruse the internet, get over it!!!!What do you want me to call "it": tally whacker, john thomas, johnson, pickle, pee-pee, wee-wee, weiner?)
Besides drawing attention to his main character being nude, or the objection to the abject object of nudification, which, by the way, most 3 year olds love being, and parents just have to deal with it, and allow a certain amount of, unless they like tantrums??!!?? Besides that attention, it has also garnered these awards:

1971 Caldecott Honor Book
Notable Children's Books of 1940--1970 (ALA)
Best Books of 1970 (SLJ)
Outstanding Children's Books of 1970 (NYT)
Best Illustrated Children's Books of 1970 (NYT)
Children's Books of 1970 (Library of Congress)
Carey-Thomas Award 1971--Honor Citation
Brooklyn Art Books for Children 1973, 1975

and of course is Julians favorite book to be read before going to bed!!!!

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