Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Go to bed already ...

Tonight I'm going to do something a little different.

I'm going to destroy a piece of your childhood.

On the surface, Goodnight Moon is an innocent bedtime story. I'm sure you know it. It's been around for more than 60 years. So the chances are good that it was read to you as a child, you read it to your children, or maybe both.

"In the great green room

There was a telephone

And a red balloon

And a picture of —"

And so begins our tale. Seems simple enough.

There's a cute little bunny child laying in bed – and he (or she) takes a count of everything in the room and then proceeds to tell everything goodnight.

Sweet, huh?

Except it isn't. It's a story about the pains of putting a small child to bed. It's all right there on the page if you're willing to read between the lines a little bit.

See, the baby bunny starts off our tale tucked into bed. The next time we see him? Still wide awake – despite the "old lady whispering hush." The next time? Standing on the bed looking at a painting. And again a few pages later – sitting on the covers, arms crossed in defiance. And still again – this time rolling around and kicking his legs. Finally – after more urging from the old lady – the child is back in the bed, bleary-eyed but still awake.

But Mike, I can hear you saying, you're obviously reading way too much into this beloved bedtime tale.


Have you looked at the clocks? That's right. There are clocks in the background of the illustrations. And what do the clocks tell us?

Well, it's 7 pm (I'm assuming it's PM – the title of the book has "night" in it after all) when baby bunny is first seen in bed. And then 7:20 by the time he's done looking around the room. And we still have to fidget around the bed and play the "say good-night to everything" to avoid going to sleep game.

It's 8 pm when the old lady has finally had enough and tells the brat to lay down already. At 8:10 the kid has finally passed out – but the old lady has already given up and is probably on her way to the pantry to fix herself a stiff drink.

That's more than an hour of fighting this child before they finally pass out from exhaustion. Does this still sound like a cute little bedtime story to you?

Now take into account that if your child loves this book (and kids love this book – at least mine does) you have to read this story EVERY night. Which means you have to relive this old lady's anguish over and over and over again. That's right, the author knows the pain you go through every night and she is mocking you.

I don't know about you, but I think that Margaret Wise Brown was one sick lady.


maggie said...


What are you going to ruin for us next? "Where the Wild Things Are"? Or maybe "Pat the Bunny"?

Sheesh. It's not pain and torture. It's BEDTIME ... the worst two hours of every child's day.

Charlie and Cindy said...

I think while writing this someone was a wittle, but, cwanky. Did him need a wittle nap? Did him need a bedtime story? Oh, maybe like Captain Kirk and the Rainy Day? Or Mr. Spock's picnic?

monkeyhouse said...

For the record - we've got no problems putting Kaylee down at night. She goes right to bed unless she's not feeling well.

This is simply an observation I made while reading the story the other night.

And also for the record ... I'm not the Trekkie in the family. :-D

Rae said...

I thought this post was hilarious... and having done a bit of my own inserting of subplots in stories through the art that make the reader really think about what's happening, well, I'm glad someone is paying attention :)

maggie said...

I think every post is hilarious. Sometimes when they're not meant to be. ;) And yes, every word is brilliant observation.

Frankly, I think we should not give a pig a pancake, either. If you give a pig a pancake, he eats for the day. But if you kill the pig, you get to eat the pancake AND the bacon.

monkeyhouse said...

I think I'll start rewriting classic childrens' books so they are more to my liking.

First up will be "Throw the Pigeon Under the Bus."

Charlie and Cindy said...

Grimm's fairy tales were originally very graphic, as you all are probably aware. They have been sanitized for all of us who are too psychologically fragile to handle grandma being gnawed ferociously by a drooling wolf. Therefore, if you need "truth in fairy tales" get an original copy of Grimm's. They're a real hoot for small children.

maggie said...

Please be nice to the pigeon. I love him.

I love the original Grimm's! When Cinderella's stepsisters eyes got pecked out by the birds ... oh, that was a great literary moment.

I mean really, they so deserved it.