Friday, May 23, 2008

Please, Margaret Wise Brown. Release us. Please.

Welcome to May 23rd, Writer readers. Children's author Margaret Wise Brown was born on this day in 1910. Brown's most well-known book is probably Goodnight Moon, which this blog also nominates for Most Unsettling Children's Book Ever. Evidence?

The copy on the back of the book reads, "A little rabbit is getting ready for bed. And as the night gets later and his room grows darker, he bids goodnight to everything around him."

Everything, folks. He bids goodnight to: Every. Thing.

Things that have occurred to this blog on, oh, roughly every one of the approx. 200 times we have had to read the book aloud: Why does the room slowly get darker, when it was already night at the beginning of the book? Who is the mysterious larger rabbit that appears in the chair? Why is there a page in this book that is empty except for the words "Goodnight nothing"? Why does the "Goodnight nothing" page reek to us of death, or at least of existential panic and despair?

Why does all of David Lynch's work seem somehow derivative of the room depicted in this book?

Why this, from Wikipedia: "Brown bequeathed the royalties to many of her books including Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny to Albert Clarke, the son of a neighbor who was nine years old when she 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 books have earned him and who believes that Wise Brown was his mother, a claim others dismiss."

Why do we cover this book with other books? Why, when we turn off the light in the room, does this book seem to pulse in a strange and menacing way? Why, when we throw this book into the garbage can, does it reappear the next day, back in its same spot on the shelf? Why, when we attempt to burn the book, does it not burn? Why, when we attempt to throw it into the street, does it somehow fly through the air in a boomeranging arc and land inside of our home again?

Why will no one believe us? Why will no one help us?

It's Margaret Wise Brown's birthday. Something awful is going to happen when we fall asleep tonight. Help us. Please. Help us.


  1. Thank you, thank you! I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks there's something off about Goodnight Moon. While I'm not sure there's a poltergeist in my copy, I don't understand why everybody's always like, Oh, you gotta read your daughter Goodnight Moon, it's the best! It's just odd: the rhyming is off, the content is strange, and the whole thing is just a bit disturbing. My 2-year-old hasn't taken to it either, which I'm glad for. However, she did have four-month fascination with Margaret Wise Brown's "Big Red Barn," which still baffles me . . .

  2. Okay, I'm a month late responding to this posting, but since I usually scroll through blogs during early morning bouts of insomnia, and I haven't had insomnia in a while, well . . . do I have to finish this sentence?

    Anyway, PDX Writer Daily, thanks for being your usual amusing self(ves). The creepiness of Goodnight Moon thing has long puzzled me, but when I read this New Yorker article, especially the last few lines (!!!), everything fell into place: