Monday, August 27, 2007

A Considered Paean to Goodnight, Moon

My last post explored conceptual territory in spatial conventions, which some might find a teeny bit academic. But at the end of that logic train, I pulled in (quite happily) at Goodnight, Moon station. Here's what I wrote, which I have pondered for the last day:
Finally, the combination of informational and experiential spaces finds an especially pleasing and appropriate home in children’s literature...[specifically in] the classic domestic array of Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd’s Goodnight, Moon...[the pleasure of] this book has a great deal to do with its perfect blend of knowledge and experience, of itemization and immersion.
The argument that gets us there can be tracked here.

Having spent a great deal of time with this book in years past, always in the intimate company of my then-small sons, I think this is formulation is correct. The reader/listener/viewer of Goodnight, Moon works back and forth between the methodical enumeration of beddie-byes to various items and friends, and the gradual darkening of the room and corresponding glow of the nighttime sky. The child is satisfied by the act of checking off as she tumbles toward the experiential murk of quietude and slumber. For our part, we revel in the complimentarity of knowing and being. Because in the most important ways, we never cease to be children, if we know what's good for us.

Bravo and thank you to Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd. The book is 60 years old this year. That's a lot of gentle night-nights.


julia said...

hello, doug! i just saw your email telling our little group about your blog (i'm a little late). i was actually just looking at goodnight moon the other day and wondering why the colors were so saturated.
but i'll be keeping up with your blog - you can find me as well at

John Hendrix said...

Ever find this book a bit creepy?

WHO IS that old lady wispering 'hush' and WHY IS SHE IN MY ROOM? And any fireman will tell you: never go to bed with a roaring blaze in the fireplace.

Scott Gericke said...

John-my daughter says the old lady is hushing the kittens...I'm still trying to figure what's in the 'bowl full of mush'! nice post Doug.

Anonymous said...

Yes, John, you are right to think there may be another layer to this book. Check out Have a Carrot: Freudian Symbols and Theory in Margaret Wise Brown's Bunny Trilogy, Look Again Press: 2008.

Anonymous said...

Have a Carrot is now available as an e-book at