Book: In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
Artist: Morgan Hutcherson
Artist’s Statement: Maurice Sendak has always been one of my favorite children’s book authors and illustrators, but I think he is most likely a common popular choice. What resonates with me in Sendak’s work is how un-adult it is. Having worked a few years at a daycare, I have continually witnessed the wild randomness and uninhibited creative nature of children and this is exactly the spirit that Sendak exhibits in all of his work. He’s not yelling morals at the reader, but letting them explore and make discoveries on their own. I did not get the chance to read In the Night Kitchen until I was a young adult, however, the saturated and cool colors and the wild tale instantly won my admiration. Although Where the Wild Things Are is one of my favorite children’s books of all time, many book and art lovers do not get the chance to experience the magnitude of the rest of his body of work and this is why I chose to work with this particular book.
An inspiring children’s book author and illustrator myself, in this piece I wanted the chance to emulate Sendak to try to gleam a bit of his simple but beautiful style. The little boy, Mickey, certainly has a very creative imagination himself and his bold and adventurous spirit led me to place him back into the Night Kitchen scene or the mixing of the dough. I, however, combined this early scene with the text of a later scene: “We Bake Cake! And Nothing’s The Matter!” because I wanted to highlight Mickey’s defiant and playful attitude. Simply, I feel that Mickey, in his childish essence, has nothing to be ashamed of. I thought that this juxtaposition does not extend any new and heavy metaphor or symbolism but simply exhibits Mickey’s personality, which is what I think young readers connect with the most.