Timeline entry for 1985: In the Night Kitchen

Banned Books Week, Censorship

Leading up to Banned Books Week 2012, ALA will highlight one book from its new timeline of banned and challenged books each day. Today we feature 1985 controversy over “In the Night Kitchen,” by Maurice Sendak.

In The Night Kitchen book coverIn 1985, “In the Night Kitchen” was challenged at the Cunningham Elementary School in Beloit, WI because the book was believed to desensitize children to nudity. In Sendak’s picture book, a young boy named Mickey falls out of his clothes as he travels through his dreams to the magical kitchen of the title. In addition to being challenged, “In the Night Kitchen” was frequently defaced by those who objected to Mickey’s nudity and drew diapers or pants over Sendak’s images. The book was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1971.

For more information about Banned Books Week, please visit www.ala.org/bbooks.


  • This book was not included in the library collections in the Jefferson County Schools, a huge school district just west of Denver, CO. But it was in the Denver Public Library collections, so I always checked it out and read it to my first graders when we studied Maurice Sendak. Never had a complaint, but one parent did tell me she was blown away when her six-year-old discussed the realative merits of Ezra Jack Keats and Maurice Sendak during dinner! It’s those moments that made teaching the best profession in the world.

  • Thanks for posting this, I couldn’t remember why In the Night Kitchen was challenged. Now I wish I didn’t have to remember because that’s the most ridiculous objection I’ve ever heard. Children are nude any time they bathe or change clothes.

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