In the Night Kitchen

Did you ever hear of Mickey,
how he heard a racket in the night and shouted, “Quiet down there!”

–Maurice Sendak

My grandfather was a man of many hobbies, including bread making. I remember playing with his copper and steel dough mixer, this deep tub with a crank and floured sides, the pre-cursor to any kind of bread machine. I remember his raisin bread with the perfect golden brown crusts, and the mix of black and yellow raisins, and I remember experimenting with sourdough, til we’d come up with the perfect starter, bubbling away on the shelf above the dishwasher.

I also remember him reading to me, and one of the books we shared was In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak. It’s this great picture book about a boy named Mickey who hears a racket in the kitchen of the building he lives in, and goes to investigate and demand silence.

In the process he falls into the dough for the morning baking, and is baked into a sort of bread plane, and proceeds to soar around the kitchen. This image is central to the book, the iconic image, just as the toothy monster is the key image from one of Sendak’s other popular works, Where the Wild Things Are.

I remember being afraid to go to sleep lest I, too, be turned into bread and I also remember thinking it would be kind of cool, but really? The coolest thing about this book, other than it’s imaginative plot and fabulous artwork, is that I would read it while sitting on my grandfather’s lap, and sharing a slice of homemade raisin toast.