In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Darker Sendak

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.

I've always felt that the most disturbing Sendak book I know is 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.

Love, Annie

P.S. I'd love to hear more about the new store!

No comments:

Post a Comment