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A Literary Question...

Can anybody out there more educated in children or literature than me explain to me what makes Good Night Moon a classic?

The art is not inspired. The rhymes are weak.
The rhythm is irregular to nonexistent.
And the little old lady whispering hush is just a little creepy.

So why does everybody seem to love it so?



( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 18th, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC)
I'm with you. I cringe every time Alex asks me to read it to him.
Sep. 18th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
I never heard of it before you mentioned it, but then, my kidlet is older.
Sep. 18th, 2008 11:32 pm (UTC)
I checked -- it was published in 1947
But I never had it while growing up, though we did have a lot of Dr Seuss.

I actually did buy a version -- in Spanish, more for my amusement than the kids'
Sep. 18th, 2008 08:54 pm (UTC)
Yes, I don't see why it is so popular, either. We had a copy that got rolled up in a blanket and accidentally laundered, and nobody seems to much miss it. I did see someone claim that kids love it because it gives them a good excuse to delay bedtime by saying "goodnight" to everything in the room.

Another one that boggles me, is that "The Poky Little Puppy" is evidently the #1 selling english-language hardcover children's book. Why, I have no idea. It would be difficult to find a more insipid, tedious book, or creepier drawings of puppies. Whenever Sam asks us to read it, we always end up skipping a lot of the tedious climbing-up-and-down-the-hill passages.

On the plus side, I saw a couple of days ago that "Where The Wild Things Are" is still in the top 10 best-selling childrens books. So, that's all right, then.
Sep. 18th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
I think it's that kids like the repetition, & (our kids, at least, did) like looking for the mouse on every page.

I always liked to say the "hush" very loudly and energetically. The kids thought that was hilarious while removing the creepiness from it for me.

Robin, with her good memory for things printed, was very rapidly to the point of being able to "read" it to the kids in the car, while the book was still at home. This might be indicative somewhat of its allure also.
Sep. 18th, 2008 09:09 pm (UTC)
It's easy to remember and there is the hidden mouse. Our kids liked Sandra Boynton's books better. P (aged 8) was cleaning his room this past weekend, and going thru his stuffys and his books to send to his niece who's coming in the next month or so. Good Night Moon got put in the go stack... All the Sandra Boynton got put in the keep pile. (We also kept Where the Wild Things Are, which got put on the Read-to-me stack :)
Sep. 18th, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC)
I missed "Goodnight Moon," but "Pokey Little Puppy" was something that my sisters and I read when we were very, very little, and never revisited after at least age 5. In fact, it's been so long that, while I remember that our family owned it, and I remember the title and cover artwork, I can't recall the text at all.
Sep. 18th, 2008 09:25 pm (UTC)
There's the mouse. There's the lamplight getting dimmer on every page. The rhythm lends itself to slow sleepy reading. I like the basic premise of saying goodnight to all the stimuli in the room. For me, the old lady was a comfortable presence. Your mileage obviously varies...
Sep. 18th, 2008 09:31 pm (UTC)
Not a clue, and we don't have a copy (nor do I intend to get one). OTOH, I'm having a heck of a time trying to find a copy of Clorinda actually, y'know, in stock at a bookstore. If all else fails, I'll break down and get it thru Amazon, I suppose.
Sep. 18th, 2008 09:37 pm (UTC)
Partially I think its popular, because its popular - if you know what I mean. From a time when it was very in vogue and has just continued to be one of those "things" that is just a standard, without being evaluated much. I know that her other book Runaway Bunny used to scare the crap out of me as a child, and now it feels to me very stalkeresqe.

I have the same bafflement about the Giving Tree, which I hate hate hate, but I know is a best beloved of many people.
Sep. 18th, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
Not a big fan of Good Night Moon. But all the sounds are very soft, making it good for bed time. As opposed to, say, Go Dog Go. I'm with Alyse, the one that I really can't stand is Runaway Bunny.

Fortunately, Alex's tastes run more to Dr. Seuss and the Harold and the Purple Crayon books (which are great, if you haven't run into one of those yet).
Sep. 18th, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC)
When was this book written? I don't recall it, either from my kids time, nor from by grandkids.
Sep. 18th, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
My copy had things to do in it - you could make the moon go up and down, and there were other things on the pages. (Not exactly a pop-up book, but the kind where you turned the wheel and things happened, or you could open doors and see what was under them.) So I liked it because of that. *grin*
Sep. 18th, 2008 10:13 pm (UTC)
"Goodnight Moon" is a classic because it was the first children's book to be printed in color.

If you'll notice, only every other page is color, because at that point, the printing process could only be done on one side. So, one side is color; the other is black & white. You'll also notice that the colors are weird, a sort of orange and a sort of green. Well, that's what they had to work with. I saw an original onceuponatime; the colored side had a definite texture that doesn't occur in modern printing.

Because of it's unique character, it was a must-have for that generation, and if you didn't have one, you wanted one, so you got one for your grandkids, even though Dr. Seuss was out by that time. That's how it became a classic.
Sep. 18th, 2008 10:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks for explaining that. I, too, got the book because it was a "must have" and was annoyed to find it was only half colored.
Sep. 18th, 2008 10:15 pm (UTC)
Read it once to Sabrina, even she didn't like it and went back to the Sandra Boynton - http://books.google.com/books?as_auth=Sandra+Boynton
Sep. 18th, 2008 10:51 pm (UTC)
I'd be interested to know what percentage of people have it because it was given to them rather than because they bought it themselves - certainly that's the case with our copy, which came from my sister in law. It doesn't have the same level of market penetration over here, where if I had to pick what I expected to be the best seller in the genre it would the The Hungry Caterpillar.
Sep. 19th, 2008 12:57 am (UTC)
As others here have mentioned, it's a sort of mantra, intended to persuade the Wild Things that it's time to turn down the volume, back off on the accelerator, and let the brain waves shift gears and go into neutral. I've heard it read (repeatedly) to a 2-year-old, and I'd say it fulfills its mission without compromise.

And since no one else has mentioned it, I'll endorse Goodnight Opus, a gentle sendup of the original work, with great art and good words and a wry outlook on things that goes nowhere near cynicism. The Little Old Lady warns against "getting carried away and departing from the text" as she reads The Book for the 210th time. But that night, Opus rewrites the text his own way. It's not for kids so much as parents who have read The Book a little too often.

The nephews gave it to me for Christmas 15 years ago, with the inscription (in Kathy's wonderful handwriting): "To Uncle Jeff, who has no problem getting carried away and departing from the text."

Truly, my nephews understand me.
Sep. 19th, 2008 01:10 am (UTC)
I have no idea, my kids weren't "Goodnight Moon" fans. I suspect that many parents liked it as kids and are getting for their kids and sheer repetition gets the kids hooked. The same thing would apply to Where the wild Things are.
Sep. 19th, 2008 01:54 am (UTC)
We got it as a gift and the kids liked it. They both liked waving good night to all the things on the page. They also liked saying "hush."

Plus, for a while when he saw the clouds on the "goodnight stars, goodnight air" page, Eddie would say, "good night, snow."

I think it's nice and calming, repetitive for the kids, and I can recite it from memory. The only thing that bugs me are the spelling errors ("toyhouse" and "goodnight").
Sep. 19th, 2008 02:53 pm (UTC)
I think, along with other reasons mentioned, that it's just a nice, quiet 'bedtime' book. Nothing to make mom or kid giggle or demand "Again!"

But there are MANY 'classics' that are truly awful, in my opinion. I agree with someone else that Poky Little Puppy is pretty bad. There is another, early "Little Golden" that's even worse .. trying to remember the title, but after getting it in a boxed set, I read it once and threw it out. About kittens wandering off away from their mama, laughing at frogs, and other completely undesirable messages.

I hate "Madeline" (talk about uninspired rhymes...) and most of the Curious George books. (Of COURSE monkeys would rather be put in zoos than live free in the jungle, and if you are naughty you will be thrown into jail!) Babar isn't great either. (At least he original. Some of the later books are cute.) I'm not a political correctness maven, but honestly....

And don't get me started on "Love You Forever."

(Shaina [and I] were big on the Spot books, and of course anything by Boynton.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )