In the Night Kitchen

in the night kitchen

In the Night Kitchen

Maurice Sendak
Lettering by Diana Blair
HarperCollins Children’s Books, 1970

The first thing you should know about this frequently challenged/banned book is that the author is Maurice Sendak. If you are familiar with his books, then you know what I mean. If not, then just know that he is a bit off-the-beam, left-of-center and not afraid of his artistic vision.

Why is this cute picture book challenged? Because it’s main character, Mickey, falls into a crazy dream and falls out of his clothes. That’s right – Mickey is naked – with his willie exposed and everything. I laughed. I laughed because it was funny; and because his willie is teeny-tiny and has no detail. It’s a nubbin’. Really. Just a nubbin’. And for that, some librarians (both school and public) have reportedly obscured poor Mickey’s nether region with tape, markers and the like. It’s an illustration of a dream, for goodness sake, and kittens (for whom it was written) will find it very funny. Kittens aren’t born being self-conscious about their bodies – it’s something they learn from the adults around them.

Beyond all that censorship nonsense, In the Night Kitchen is a fun romp through a dream about having cake in the morning. I wish I had cake every morning! Mickey gets mistaken for milk by a trio of Oliver Hardy (of Laurel and Hardy fame) chefs baking a giant cake. He eventually climbs out of the cake and into a bread dough plane only to fall into a giant bottle of milk, which he then gives to the bakers so they can bake their cake. It’s a crazy dream-story – no crazier than any of the ones I have and are able to remember. It’s fun and funny.

Exercise your freedom to read what you want and check-out this book from your local library! (Did you know the books that get checked out infrequently are removed and discarded?)

Rating: 5 out of 5 paws for a fun book about a crazy dream and cake in the morning! Who cares Mickey is naked?!


Jack, North Carolina Division Chief and Banned Books Librarian


Cat Dreams

cat dreams a

Cat Dreams

Ursula K. Le Guin
Illustrated by S. D. Schindler
Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., 2009

From the dust jacket: “Climb into a cat’s dreamland! It’s raining mice, all the dogs have run away and a big bowl of kibbles and cream is waiting.”

It’s as if the author peeked inside my head to see what I dream of!!! Beautifully illustrated with gorgeous detailed imaginings of what all cats secretly hope for – lots of mice, no drooling dogs, a never-ending bowl of yummy goodness and even a cat nip tree to climb!! The rhymed text is large with simple words that dance across the page enchanting toddlers and beginning readers alike. The young kittens in your household will ask you to read this book to them again and again!

Rating 4 out of 5 paws for big bowls of cream, raining mice and scared dogs!! Also for moms who hold you when you’re scared.






5 Wordless Picture Books by David Weisner


5 Wordless Picture Books by David Weisner

Brace yourselves – this is a long one!

Clarion Books, a Houghton Mifflin Company imprint, 2006

A Caldecott Medal winning book, Flotsam is one of the most imaginative and beautiful books I’ve read. It starts out with a boy playing on the beach and after being knocked over by a wave, he discovers an old camera in the water. He gets the film inside developed and is amazed at what the photographs show.

And those photographs – well illustrations – are amazing! An octopus sitting in a living room reading a book to baby octopi and baby fish with angler fish providing the light; a puffer fish hot air balloon; a shell village on the back of a sea turtle; islands that are actually giant starfish; and an anemone town peopled by mermaids and squid. There is so much detail in the photos that I lingered on each page just to see what I had not seen before.

Younger children will love the pictures, older ones will love the detail and all ages will love putting words to the stories.

The twist in the end – well I won’t give it away because it is a total surprise.

Rating 5 paws – a rare rating for a picture book but this one is beautiful and one we are putting on our “Mom, please buy” list.


Mr. Wuffles
Clarion Books, a Houghton Mifflin Company imprint, 2013

I laughed out loud at this one! Mr. Wuffles is a beautiful black tuxedo cat that turns his nose up at all the toys his mom buys for him. Then one day he comes across a new toy – which just happens to be a flying saucer filled with itty-bitty green men!

Mr. Wuffles decides this is his new favorite toy but the aliens inside are freaking out. Their spaceship is broken down and they have to figure out how to repair it while being tossed around by a giant black, furry alien (to them). They escape the ship, run under the radiator and find help in the walls of the house. Inside those walls are ants and a ladybug that help out the little green men. That is where the action really beings! The aliens eventually escape the clutches of Mr. Wuffles and he is very disappointed.

Again, the detail is amazing; the story line is hilarious and original. Mr. Wuffles reminds me of Toby (even though he is orange) and his toys. If he doesn’t want to play with it at that moment, he just ignores it.

Kids of all ages will enjoy this story – take your time with it and savor each scene.

Rating: another 5 paw book! Imagination, creative, original, wonderful – and of course the villain of the book is the adorable Mr. Wuffles. (And on our “Mom, please buy” list!)


Clarion Books, a Houghton Mifflin Company imprint, 1991

Another Caledecott Medal winner Tuesday is about the mystery that takes place every Tuesday evening, around 8 o’clock. On this Tuesday, the sun has set over a pond and hundreds of frogs climb sitting on lily pads rise into the air and sail over a sleeping town. This is a surprise to their fellow pond dwellers (turtles and fish) as well as to roosting birds. As they fly by the houses in town, they peek in the windows to see what humans are doing. They finally end up at the house of an elderly woman who has fallen asleep in front of the television and stop to watch a late night show. Around 4 o’clock in the morning the frogs get chased by a dog but then turned around and chase the dog! At sunrise, the magic ends, they fall back to earth and have to hop their way back to their pond. The book ends with the magic touching a different animal on the following Tuesday.

I liked this book for the detailing in the frogs, from the markings on their skin to their expressions. The story is simpler that the previous two books (and the following one) but no less enchanting. Since the story takes place at night this would be a good bedtime story, sure to set visions of flying amphibians floating through your dreams!


Rating: 4 paws for flying frogs.


Sector 7
Clarion Books, a Houghton Mifflin Company imprint, 1999

A young boy goes on a school trip to the Empire State Building in New York City. As he and his classmates reach the roof they are enveloped in fog. In the midst of the fog the boy meets a very friendly cloud and they are immediate best friends. The cloud takes the young boy to Sector 7 where all the clouds go to get their shape orders for the day. As it happens the boy can draw very well and the clouds start coming to him because they’re bored with the same old cloud shape. So he draws them different shapes to take, primarily creatures from the ocean, and they start changing into giant fish and other sea creatures. The people in charge of ordering the cloud shapes totally freak out and stop the clouds from heading out to the skies in their weird shapes and they send the boy back to the Empire State Building. On the way home he looks skyward from the school bus and sees fish shaped clouds in the sky.

Imaginative and original as usual. Who knew there was a sort of factory in the sky that determine cloud shapes? The story is easy to follow and the illustrations are detailed. While it might capture the heart of someone who loves the phenomenon of weather, it didn’t capture my heart. For that reason alone the


Rating is: 3 Paws. A lovely book, but not one I would read again.


Free Fall
HarperCollins Publishers, 1988

The same boy from Flotsam is in this book (he has a very active imagination!). As the story opens we find the boy has fallen asleep while reading and we get to peek into his dreams. In his dream he meets a chess board come to life with a real king and queen, bishops, and knights. They take him across the chessboard land into a castle that may in fact be a dragon. He meets the dragon in forest and then comes out of a book (with other chess board characters) into building that turns into rocky outcrops and the chess board people are now in miniature (kind of like Gulliver and the Lilliputians). Then he travels through the rocky outcrops on the back of a pig toward a city made of maps. Then back to the rocky outcrops which turn into croissants where he is blown by a windstorm onto a leaf that turns into a swan that flies over a chessboard sea. The swans take him back to his bed. When he wakes in the morning we see all the things around his bed that influenced his dream.

Sounds like a real dream doesn’t it? It makes me wonder if Mr. Weisner had a dream like this and brought it outside his head into the world. Fascinating and surreal the way dreams really are, the story captures the part of us that our conscious brain can’t. This book has the roots of later books in it – like in the Three Pigs, where the pigs not only fly but climb out of books. The dragon in the Three Pigs is in this book as well as in another I will be reviewing another time. And the pigs also appear in another book I have already reviewed today (but I won’t say which one because I don’t like spoilers!)


Rating: 3 paws for imagination and dreams!

feb 26 05abReviewer: Simon

Thank you Virginia Beach Public Library for making these books available to all!

Our branch: Windsor Woods!windsor woods