This month’s entry in the series, “Climbing the Stairs with a Librarian,” is a classic of children’s bedtime reading. Come along with us as we explore “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown.
First, the story, which isn’t complex: we join a young bunny as he says goodnight to everything in his room and then outside his window. When he’s finally addressed everything, he falls asleep.
The illustrations, by Clement Hurd, are simple and some are in black and white, while others are in color.
This book was first published in 1947 and turns 75 this year.
When I read bedtime stories to my daughter, “Goodnight Moon” wasn’t in the rotation. I have come to understand it is considered a classic by many, I suppose the question in my mind is, “Why?”
Let’s be honest — there’s no plot to speak of. And, my apologies to fans of the book, the drawings aren’t spectacular.
(An anecdote about this book I discovered while researching for this blog post — illustrator Hurd drew rabbits in the story because he was awful at drawing people.)
Part of its enduring popularity, fans say, is the way the book is written as though through the mindset of a child.
Unlike most adults, the child finds everything in the room important — from the hairbrush to the mouse.
And, just like a child’s bedtime routine, everything is addressed in a certain order. There is also the dragging-the-feet at bedtime and coming up with ways to stay awake such as saying goodnight to everything in the room.
Some disturbing aspects of the book which other readers have noted are when the young bunny says goodnight to “nobody” and the unexplained identity of the “little old lady whispering ‘hush’”. The little old lady could be a grandma, other relative, or a babysitter. We’ll never know. I like to think she is the bunny’s grandma, knitting a scarf for him as a birthday or Christmas present.
The blank page of “goodnight to nobody” is surprising after the kittens, mittens, socks and clocks but I didn’t find it disturbing like others. I just thought it was very much like a child, saying something unexpected.
Which takes us back to how this book is written similar to how a child sees reality.
Considering how popular this book is the library’s copy is in fairly good shape. (Minus a small scribble in colored pencil on the back cover.) There’s no worry if the library’s copy is checked out, there are a hundred more in the catalog for you to explore.
Do you love “Goodnight Moon”? Let us know in the comments section of this post or in-person at the library. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
And thanks for reading!