In the Night Kitchen

In the Night Kitchen

Written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak

New York, Harper & Row, 1970

8.6" x 11"

Kerlan Collection, Children's Literature Research Collections

University of Minnesota Libraries

By his own account, winning the 1964 Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are freed Maurice Sendak to explore bold new directions for the picture book. In this, his next major contribution to the genre, he turned in part to vintage comic strips for stylistic inspiration, a decision sure to raise eyebrows among traditionalists who still considered the comics trash. The real provocation lay elsewhere, however: in his frontal depiction of a naked boy. Reports of fig leaves or their equivalent being pasted in place by decorous librarians were soon pouring into Harper & Row's offices, prompting Sendak's editor, Ursula Nordstrom, to publish an open letter addressed to the juvenile-book community, condemning an "act of censorship by mutilation rather than by obvious suppression," and declaring that such behavior "must not be allowed to have an intimidating effect on creators and publishers of books for children."

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Storied City: New York
In the Night Kitchen