Goodnight Moon is a classic children’s bedtime book, first published in 1947, and still going strong.
Although not a book from my own childhood, I can see the appeal, and it is a regular bedtime book in our house now.
The story and images are a little outdated now, with the big bedroom illustrated in vivid green and red (orange), alternating with black and white pages. Things like a tiger skin rug on the floor (faux I’ll assume), wind-up mantel clocks, and an old dial phone in the illustrations, highlight the age of the story, as well as the nanny in her rocking chair and the bowl of mush. Yet despite this, or possibly because of this, it is still an endearing story about a little rabbit who says goodnight to the things in his/her room as the room dims to dark and he/she falls asleep.
In the great green room
There was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of…
Most of the text is a simple sentence on each page, and gentle rhymes, first we’re introduced to the items, then we get to say goodnight to the room and everything in it.
The only annoyance I have with the text is:
Goodnight cow jumping over the moon
They just don’t flow as well as the rest of the story, and I find having two moons to talk about just doesn’t fit as well as it could.
There is also a random “Goodnight nobody” inserted into the story with a blank page. I’m not sure if the publisher just needed an extra page for printing purposes, or if this was intended to be there from the outset, but it does seem very weird to say goodnight to nobody, for no apparent reason.
The illustrations are simple, with very little clutter on each page, but the green/orange combination is a little disturbing. Yet, strangely enough, you do very quickly get used to this, until it seems to work.
We finish with a darkened room, fire in the fireplace having died down, the kittens asleep on the rocking chair, and the bunny tucked up in bed, sound asleep, to the calming “Goodnight noises everywhere”. This is a wonderful bedtime book as it takes the listening child on the relaxed journey to bed and sleep. I’ve even (successfully) used the “say goodnight” technique to help my little girl relax and get into the going to sleep mindset, saying goodnight to her teddy’s.
Some of the concepts might not fit into the modern child’s view of the world, but I think, for the most part, that the simple rhyming language and clear illustrations provide a nice shared reading opportunity, and the steady journey towards sleep provide a wonderful bedtime reading book. In the same way that the “Sound of Music” with Julie Andrews is now both outdated and classic, so it is that Goodnight Moon is also outdated, yet always a classic.