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Bri Meets Books

Children's and YA literature reviews.

“The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.”
–Oscar Wilde

Today marks the beginning of Banned Books Week! What is Banned Books Week? From the American Library Association website:

Banned Books Week emphasizes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.

The ALA website is a wealth of information regarding banned books and intellectual freedom.

I consider myself extremely lucky that my parents never questioned what I read, and allowed me to make all literary decisions for myself when younger. I was never denied a book because of its content, and I really thank them for that.

What I find interesting is that works of literature are frequently challenged for their content, whether it be sexual, language, supposed “anti-family” tactics, etc, yet Hollywood and the tabloid industry are still free to turn out immoral works scot-free.

I’m going to feature a different “banned or challenged” book I love each day this week. And of course, they’ll be children’s books.

In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

#25 on the 100 Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000

The tale of young Mickey awoken in the middle of night to join a group of chefs with the preparation of a cake, was published in 1970 and is frequently challenged for the illustrations depicting Mickey nude, once he has fallen into the batter of the cake.

The nudity isn’t excessive, and Sendak notes that it was an artistic choice, for the batter would ruin Mickey’s clothes. Some view the book as too sexually explicit, and claim the milk bottle is seemingly phallic. But couldn’t one argue the same for a Coca-Cola advertisement?

Regardless of its supposed sexual undertones, In the Night Kitchen is a fun and magical romp through a dreamlike world of a little boy. The illustrations are as charming and full of whimsy as Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and the book is recommended for any Sendak fan.

Related Links and Reading

Animated version of the story (Youtube link)

San Francisco’s Metreon complex featured a Night Kitchen-themed restaurant.

“Censorship-Threat over Children’s Books”, by Mary Lou White,1974 (The Elementary School Journal


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