Best YA & YYA Lit 1970 (10)

By: Joshua Glenn
October 29, 2019

For several years now, I’ve argued — here at HILOBROW, as well as in the UNBORED books I’ve co-authored — that the Sixties (1964–1973) were a golden age for YA and YYA adventures. This post is one in a series of 10 identifying my favorites from 1970.

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Maurice Sendak’s children’s dream adventure In the Night Kitchen.

A young boy named Mickey wakes up in the night, hearing a thumping sound coming from below his room. “Quiet down there!” he shouts — before falling out of his clothes and into the Night Kitchen, where enormous bakers (who look exactly like the silent-film comedian Oliver Hardy, though some commentators insist that they resemble Hitler) accidentally stir him into the batter for a cake and pop him into an oven. The artwork is miraculous: vintage-looking, with fond references to Winsor McCay’s early 20th-century strip Little Nemo In Slumberland, while also evoking Claes Oldenburg’s Pop Art “soft sculptures” of saggy hamburgers and baggy slices of cake. This is visual storytelling at its finest; as a child, I wanted to sink into the book’s oversized pages the way that Mickey sinks through the bedroom floor. Unlike Little Nemo, Mickey is an action hero — he isn’t at the mercy of his own subconscious. He pops out of the cake batter, shapes it into an airplane, and flies to the top of a skyscraper-like milk bottle towering over the Night Kitchen’s cityscape. Diving boldly into the milk, which dissolves his batter-jumpsuit, he delivers to the bakers the crucial ingredient they’d lacked for their cake. Then it’s back to bed. An empowering lucid dream, and a fine escapade.

Fun facts: Sendak would later explain that Mickey’s escape from the oven is a reference to the Holocaust. Because of Mickey’s (innocent, exuberant) nudity, the book remains one of the most frequently challenged books in American libraries. Winner of the 1971 Caldecott Honor.

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Let me know if I’ve missed any adventures from this year that you particularly admire. Also, please check out these additional lists.

BEST SIXTIES YA & YYA: [Best YA & YYA Lit 1963] | Best YA & YYA Lit 1964 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1965 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1966 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1967 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1968 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1969 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1970 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1971 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1972 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1973. ALSO: Best YA Sci-Fi.

The 200 Greatest Adventures (1804–1983). THE OUGHTS: 1904 | 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1909 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913. THE TEENS: 1914 | 1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1919 | 1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923. THE TWENTIES: 1924 | 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1929 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933. THE THIRTIES: 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943. THE FORTIES: 1944 | 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1949 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953. THE FIFTIES: 1954 | 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963. THE SIXTIES: 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973. THE SEVENTIES: 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983. THE EIGHTIES: 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993. THE NINETIES: 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003. I’ve only recently started making notes toward a list of Best Adventures of the EIGHTIES, NINETIES, and TWENTY-OUGHTS.

Categories

Adventure, Lit Lists

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