Readerz.Net / Margaret Wise Brown / Goodnight Moon
Goodnight Moon is an American children's book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd. It was published on September 3, 1947, and is a highly acclaimed bedtime story. It features a bunny saying "good night" to everything around: "Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon. Goodnight light, and the red balloon ...".
This book is the second in Brown and Hurd's "classic series", which also includes The Runaway Bunny and My World. The three books have been published together as a collection titled Over the Moon.
Goodnight Moon is classic children's literature in North America. The text is a rhyming poem, describing an anthropomorphic bunny's bedtime ritual of saying "good night" to various inanimate and living objects in the bunny's bedroom: a red balloon, a pair of socks, the bunny's dollhouse, a bowl of mush, two kittens, etc.
In 1999, Goodnight Moon was adapted into a 26-minute animated HBO Family video, which premiered on HBO in December of that year, was released on VHS in the spring of 2000, and DVD in 2005, in the United States. The video features an animated short of Goodnight Moon, narrated by Susan Sarandon, along with six other animated segments of children's bedtime stories and lullabies with live-action clips of children offering wise reflections on a series of sleepytime topics in between, a reprise of Goodnight Moon at the end, and the Everly Brothers' "All I Have To Do Is Dream" playing over the closing credits.
Here are the other tales and lullabies featured in the video:
Illustrator Clement Hurd claims that initially the book was to be published using the pseudonym Memory Ambrose for Brown, with his illustrations credited to Hurricane Jones. (Jones is the name of a character in Five Little Firemen by Brown and Edith Thacher Hurd.
Goodnight Moon slowly became a bestseller. Annual sales grew from about 1,500 copies in 1953 to 20,000 in 1970; by 1990, the total number of copies sold was more than 4 million. Currently, the book sells about 800,000 copies annually and in 2017 has sold an estimated 48 million copies cumulatively. Goodnight Moon has been translated into French, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, Catalan, Hebrew, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Korean, and Hmong.
Brown, who died in 1952, bequeathed the royalties to the book (among many others) to Albert Clarke, who was the nine-year-old son of a neighbor when Brown died. In 2000, reporter Joshua Prager detailed in the Wall Street Journal the troubled life of Mr. Clarke who has squandered the millions of dollars the book has earned him and who believes that Brown was his mother, a claim others dismiss.
In 2005, publisher HarperCollins digitally altered the photograph of illustrator Hurd, which had been on the book for at least twenty years, to remove a cigarette. Its editor-in-chief for children's books, Kate Jackson, said, "It is potentially a harmful message to very young [children]." HarperCollins had the reluctant permission of Hurd's son, Thacher Hurd, but the younger Hurd said the photo of Hurd with his arm and fingers extended, holding nothing, "looks slightly absurd to me". HarperCollins has said it will likely replace the picture with a different, unaltered photo of Hurd in future editions. In response, a satirical article demanded the removal of other potentially dangerous objects in the book, such as the fireplace and balloon (a choking hazard for young children).
In addition to multiple octavo and duodecimo paperback editions, Goodnight Moon is available in a board book edition, a book whose pages are actually stiff cardboard to make it suitable to give to a very young child, as well as a "jumbo" edition, suitable for use with large groups.
In 2008, Thacher Hurd used his father's artwork from Goodnight Moon to produce Goodnight Moon 123: A Counting Book. In 2010 HarperCollins used artwork from the book to produce Goodnight Moon's ABC: An Alphabet Book.
In 2015, Loud Crow Interactive Inc. released a Goodnight Moon interactive app.
Allusions and references
Goodnight Moon contains a number of references to The Runaway Bunny. For example, the painting hanging over the fireplace of "The Cow Jumping Over the Moon" first appeared in The Runaway Bunny. However, when reprinted in Goodnight Moon, the udder "for caution's sake was reduced to an anatomical blur" to avoid the controversy that E.B. White's Stuart Little had undergone when published in 1945. The other painting in the room, which is never explicitly mentioned in the text, portrays a bunny fly-fishing for another bunny, using a carrot as bait. This picture is also a reference to The Runaway Bunny. The top shelf of the bookshelf holds an open copy of The Runaway Bunny, and there is a copy of Goodnight Moon on the nightstand.
The telephone is mentioned early in the book, but is absent from the litany of "Good night ..." salutations. The primacy of the reference to the telephone indicates that the bunny is in his mother's room and his mother's bed.
Literary significance and reception
Based on a 2007 on-line poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". In 2012 it was ranked number four among the "Top 100 Picture Books" in a survey published by School Library Journal.
Author Susan Cooper writes that the book is possibly the only "realistic story" to gain the universal affection of a fairy-tale, although she also noted that it is actually a "deceptively simple ritual" rather than a story.
In popular culture
In 1993, the Warner Bros. animated television series Animaniacs's first episode, in its first season, included a light spoof of Goodnight Moon named "Nighty-Night Toon".
The Goodnight Moon Game, by Briar Patch, is a memory game for very young children. It won a 1998 Parents' Choice Gold Award and a 1999 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.
In a 2000 episode of The Simpsons, the family attends the Springfield Festival of Books and sees Christopher Walken reading Goodnight Moon to an audience of terrified children. This is a reference to Walken's infamous reading of The Three Little Pigs on Channel 4's Saturday Zoo.
In 2010, CollegeHumor posted five science fiction spoofs of well-known children's stories, including a mashup of Goodnight Moon and Frank Herbert's novel Dune, entitled Goodnight Dune'. In 2011, author Julia Yu adapted the image on CollegeHumor into a full homage of Moon, also titled Goodnight Dune.
Also in 2011, composer Eric Whitacre published a setting for voice accompanied either by harp and strings or by piano; it was recorded by his wife, soprano Hila Plitmann. Whitacre wrote, "... I must have read Goodnight Moon to my son a thousand times... Somewhere around reading number 500 I began hearing little musical fragments as I read, and over time those fragments began to blossom into a simple, sweet lullaby. I knew it was a long shot, but I asked my manager, Claire Long, to contact HarperCollins and see if they would allow the text to be set to music. To my surprise and delight they agreed – the first time they had ever allowed Goodnight Moon to be used in such a way." On 20 July 2018, a choral arrangement for SATB & Piano was released alongside a digital single by the Eric Whitacre Singers.
In a 2012 episode of Family Guy, Lois tucks Stewie into bed and reads him Goodnight, Town from Footloose.
In 2013, GWAR lead singer Oderus Urungus did a "live audio read" of the book.
Also in 2013, ZeniMax Online Studios created a parody of the book titled "Goodnight Mundus" for the MMO The Elder Scrolls Online. The game's loremaster Lawrence Schick is seen reading the book aloud in a video parody posted by their official YouTube account and the contents of the video were later added as a book in the game.
Also, in a book by Cal Armistead called "Being Henry David", when the main character is sleeping outside near a dumpster, the character does his own version of Goodnight Moon by saying goodnight to things near the dumpster.
The University of Minnesota Press published the 2015 book Goodnight Loon, full of Minnesota Northwoods language. The original text's bunny is replaced by the university's mascot, Goldy Gopher.