Written by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Clement Hurd
Harper Collins, 1947
In the great green room
There was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of
The cow jumping over the moon
What makes this book so dangerous? The illustrator’s photo in the back of the book showed him holding a cigarette
The full list of everything in the green room goes on to list bears on chairs, kittens, mittens, a toy house, a mouse, a comb, a brush, a bowl of mush and a lady whispering ‘hush.’ The bunny who is going to sleep in that room goes through the list of things again, wishing goodnight to each thing and includes the stars, the air and noises everywhere. At the end of the book, he’s fast asleep in his bed.
This is probably the best known book by author Margaret Wise Brown, who wrote another hundred or so and left over 50 manuscripts unpublished when she passed away at the age of 42. She was a teacher who was on record as saying she didn’t particularly care for children. She said that she wrote Goodnight Moon in a single morning and that she was simply writing out a technique she had learned for going to sleep at night. It seems to do a pretty good job, as I find myself yawning just from looking at the pictures.
Clement Hurd’s illustrations alternate between black and white pictures that focus on isolated objects and two page color pictures that show the full bedroom. Because this book is so iconic, it’s been parodied several times, including Goodnight Brew (for beer lovers), Goodnight Keith Moon (for rock music fans) and Goodnight iPad, which was relevant enough to modern generations that it actually replaced the original in many homes. The controversy over the picture of Mr. Hurd smoking on the back cover turned into quite a flap, when the publisher digitally edited the cigarette out of the picture and a backlash against the altered photograph ensued. Eventually, the photograph was replaced with a new one, making the original book a bit of a collector’s item.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that saying goodnight to those around you helps you relax and fall asleep.