Thursday, November 9, 2017

Goodnight Moon (1947) and The Runaway Bunny ( 1942) by Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Clement Hurd.

I'm reading this truly fantastic new book called Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children's Literature as an Adult by Bruce Handy.  It is all about how great children's literature is to read as adult, which I absolutely believe to be true, and advocate.  If you read my blog or follow my reviews on Goodreads, you know I read plenty of children's literature:  picture books, easy readers, early chapter books, novels.  (I'm not a huge fan of YA, preferring a middle grade reader over a YA any day).  Handy had a choice chapter on how fucking cool Margaret Wise Brown was (and how eccentric she was too).  Did you know that MWB was a lesbian?  I know I didn't!

Upon finishing that chapter (and moving on to fairy tales and Maurice Sendak), I realized that in all my years of reading children's literature, in all of my years of being a children's librarian, I had never actually read Goodnight Moon.  Recently I read Frankenstein for the first time, and found while I knew a few things about the book, I really knew nothing.  That was not true with Goodnight Moon.  When reading the book, I felt like I was re-reading it, even though I actually was only reading it for the first time.  

I have nothing unique or interesting to say about Goodnight Moon.  Read Brucy Handy's book - he's a far more interesting writer than me.  Clement Hurd's illustrations are so very, very 1940s, for some reason, to me at least, very aesthetically Miracle on 34th Street (1947 - same year!).  

The Runaway Bunny is from a genre of books I never really like all that well.  Perhaps this is the granddaddy of all those "I love you so much" books that parents get as baby shower gifts.  Anita Jeram's Guess How Much I Love You, Barbara Joose's Mama, Do You Love Me?, Robert Munsch's I Love You Forever.  I gave that particular book to my mom twenty years ago, so I'm not a hater on these books (I also know how this particular bookcreeps some people out).  I just don't think they are very interesting as books.  Bruce Handy makes a very, very good case for how interesting The Runaway Bunny is, and how it's also based on a (creepy stalkery) medieval folk song, which made Margaret Wise Brown ever more fucking cool in my mind.  This book also has 1940s stamped all over its style; it reminded me an Easter greeting card from that era that my father might have received from his grandmother.  Bruce Handy is right about many things, but what resonated for me about what he said about this book was how the mother rabbit became the wind and was going to "blow you where I want you to go."  That's mothering.  And perhaps smothering.  

The Runaway BunnyThe Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm not a fan of these "I love you forever" types of books. I don't hate them, but they just leave me cold. Perhaps I have no heart. I definitely have no children (that I'm aware of), so maybe a baby would make me appreciate them more. I only picked this up because Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children's Literature as an Adult had some really interesting things to say about it. I don't want to spoil Handy's book - go read it. Clement Hurd's illustrations are pure 1940s, although more like an Easter greeting card rather than - I dunno, wallpaper or the Thin Man's apartment or the Little Rascals or Benny Goodman's girl singer. 

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have nothing new or interesting to say about Goodnight Moon that probably hasn't been said before. There are some kick ass reviews here already. Go read them.

Note: I had never read this before now. I'm going to be 48 years old in a few months, and somehow, I missed out on Good Night moon. I knew of it, and reading it actually felt like re-reading it. But this was my first time. I think possibly it is my first Margaret Wise Brown book too. I can't recommend Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children's Literature as an Adult enough; his chapter on MWB made me read this and The Runaway Bunny.

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