Sunday, April 7, 2013

Good Night, Moon

Personally, Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown has never been a favorite of mine.  I am not fond of the transition between the color pictures and the black and white ones, particularly as the transition never made sense to me.  At first, I thought the color pictures represented what was real and the black and white ones what was not real (i.e., the pictures hung on the walls).  However, this pattern was broken immediately with the second black and white set of illustrations. 

I also did not like how the original picture changed.  There was no old lady in the rocker originally and then there was.  This bothered me as a child.  While I understood the old lady was capable of moving and had obviously sat down in the rocker, I wondered where she had been originally, why she hadnt been seated in the rocker to start with, or standing next to the bed.  Why did she suddenly appear out of nowhere?  This was unacceptable to me.  She should have been somewhere!  I remember, as a child, flipping back and forth from the first pages to the later ones, trying to find where she would have been.  She just wasnt there.  And then she was.  It just didnt make sense to me and that pretty much ruined the book for me.

In addition, even as a child, I had a strong sense that a book should tell a story.  To me, this book excelled at telling me nothing.  It was a book about nothing.  About saying good night.  I did that every night and I wasnt much interested in reading about the process of saying goodnight, even if it was said to all the inanimate objects in the room.  I found it uninteresting in the extreme. 

For me, this book has always been the book you read to infants and to extremely young children before they are able to express their desire for a real story, and frankly, for real illustrations.  This was a book of the same illustration, over and over again.  The bunny moves in tiny ways, as do the cats and the mouse, but otherwise, everything is the same.  Except the old lady disappeared again!  From one frame to the next.  I didnt like that.  It might be realistic, but it annoyed me.  She had the ability to just disappear and we were not shown that.  Where was the love between the mama / grandmama / nanny rabbit and the child?  Where was the goodnight kiss?  Where was the picture of the old lady leaning over the child in tenderness at the end of the night?  I didnt like the appearing and disappearing old lady who only ever said, hush.  There was so much wrong with this story that when I re-read it as an adult for this class, I had the same, exact, visceral reaction as a child I immediately began cataloging its failings.  I am left to question why so many people love this story, when for me, it is (as my middle school students would say) an epic fail.

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