Goodnight Moon is overrated, ugly and boring.
There, I said it.
The illustrations are poor, the colors are garish, the perspective is ridiculous, and the text is downright lazy:
“Goodnight nobody. Goodnight mush.”
Seriously, Margaret Wise Brown?
I understand the appeal, of course. I know that it’s considered a “classic”, with almost every parent being given multiple copies when they have a baby, and there’s a sense of tradition in reading it to your child that appeals to parents if they had it read to them when they were young too. I honestly have no memory of it from when I was little, but for all I know it was my favorite book. Well, I don’t mind admitting it’s possible I had terrible taste in books when I was an infant, so I’m not worried this position is indefensible.
And hey, it’s not like my son doesn’t enjoy it at all, often including it in his frequent “make dada read every book in sight” adventures. He mainly likes pointing out the kitties and the balloon. With a little bit of effort there can be a certain lyricism to the words that I can see being an aid to lull a child to sleep… assuming he isn’t kept awake at night wondering why a bunny has pet kittens and a tiger pelt rug.
Isn’t that bunny a little young to have a phone in his room? And dang, that bowl full of mush is bigger than the poor kid’s head, no wonder he didn’t finish it all before bed.
Anyhow, I am seriously starting to suspect that high regard for Goodnight Moon is little more than an invisible robe, and no one wants to be the one to tell the Emperor that his ding-dong is hanging out.
Or maybe we’ve just convinced ourselves that any book that requires techniques for surviving its boringness (“Look! The clocks hands and the mouse have moved on the next page! Thrilling!”) must be good literature, or else it would never have become popular…? It’s like Moby Dick or Wuthering Heights or something.
I’m not even suggesting my son won’t come to love it more and more as he grows. I don’t plan on cutting him off from it or anything. Some day I might even shed tears of joy as he reads or recites it to me on his own. I’m not a heartless monster.
But I still think it’s a terrible book.
Am I alone here?
NOTE: I forgive Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd for their awful “classic”, because I love The Runaway Bunny.