Last time we saw Mickey, he was nakedly enjoying his time in the milk jar, singing away. Apparently he has gotten back to task and pours the sorely needed milk from the top into the batter. Note the plane still in the background. I remember being captivated as a child with the perfectly straight flow of milk from the top of the page to the bottom. It seemed aethereal, strange, unreal. Now I might say Platonic, if I were feeling punchy. So with the proper ingredient in place, the cake goes forward into the still eponymous Mickey oven, and joy is had all around. As the soul-crushing Debbie Downer that I am, I’d like to point out that smoke coming out an over is almost never a good sign, no matter how frolicky the nearby cooks are. Consider that my PSA for the day.
The frolicking continues, with a funnel making itself useful as a megaphone. The wooden spoon as mandolin is sort of magical. I wonder what the rhyming does in the book. Maybe it signals success? Happiness? I’m not certain, but these cooks don’t seem to preoccupied by it. And Mickey’s hiding in the background, proud of his work well done, cuddling up with the moon.
And when the moon goes down, someone has to announce the day. In yet another occupation change, Mickey, with his magnificent measuring cup comb, welcomes the morning with a resounding Cock-a-Doodle-Doo! The arrival of the morning, of course, means that the time has come to leave the Night Kitchen.
Just as easily as he entered it, Mickey slides out and lands in his warm bed, having had the adventure of his dreams.
This end bit I think is for pure silliness, parodying the facile fables of yesteryear, in which every story wraps up neatly, with a moral for a bow. On the other hand, Mickey certainly deserves the accolades, so I don’t begrudge him the final page. Thank goodness we have cake every morning. Thank goodness we dream. Thank goodness we imagine, we put ourselves in worlds in which everything wonderful can happen to us, we can be the heroes we always dreamed of being, and still have a warm place to sleep at night. Thank goodness that at night, there are jolly cooks making cake for the morning. Thank goodness for childhood, when everything is possible. Thank goodness for adults who understand childhood. Thank goodness for Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator, artist extraordinaire.
Rest in peace.