Dear Aunt Debbie,
I'm kind of sorry to have the possible Holocaust interpretation of In the Night Kitchen in my head now. Not that it's a total surprise, given Sendak's clear personal interest in Holocaust stories. I saw an amazing collaboration he did with the dance company Pilobilus, which touched on Holocaust themes, and I know he and Tony Kushner worked together on Brundibar, a children's book which tells the story of the Czech opera that Nazis had Jewish children perform in the concentration camp Terezin. I haven't yet read it.
Outside Over There. It's a fairy tale, of sorts: Ida's papa is away at sea and her Mama is depressed, so Ida takes care of her baby sister. The baby is snatched away by goblins, who leave a wide-eyed ice baby in her place. Ida chases down the goblins, then plays a tune on her horn so catchy that the goblins can't help themselves, and dance until they've melted away. The baby-stealing thing disturbed me even before I had kids of my own, but the page where the goblins dance themselves to death is just as creepy: when the goblins take off their cloaks, they're revealed to look like babies themselves, so it is babies you see laughing and dancing to oblivion. There's a lot to analyze in that one, too.
P.S. I'd love to hear more about the new store!