[Note: Typical me--didn't notice the spelling mistake (since corrected) in the title. I am sure the Brits didn't even notice.]
When a new mom asks for a book recommendation, the first book I think of is Goodnight Moon. But it has come to my attention lately that some people just don't appreciate a literary bowl full of mush the way I do.
Of course, I like it because of the science: The room darkens as night takes over (astronomy), a fire burns in the hearth and dries the mittens (chemistry and physics), there is a telephone (electricity and acoustics), a comb and a brush are potential sources of static (electricity), the colors red and green are part of the visible spectrum (see how they fade as the room grows dark!), kittens romp (animal behavior) and the old lady sits in a rocking chair (momentum). And how long can that bowl full of mush endure (mycology)?
Well. Not really.
Actually, there are plenty of reasons for me to dislike Goodnight Moon. It has all of the annoying problems that I frequently bemoan when I read children's books. For one thing, the poetry doesn't quite work, and the lack of scheme makes the occasional rhyme more of a surprise in this book than in a poem with measurable meter. It has a miserable commonplace vocabulary. And it really doesn't go anywhere, but rambles on sleepily in a stream of bedtime consciousness. And yet...I love it.
Perhaps I love it most for the bedtime routine. There is the usual going to bed ritual, including the obligatory goodnights. The rabbit child (for it is not a human child living in that room with kittens and mice--something I never noticed in my youth!) delays sleep by wishing goodnight to everything in the room, even, in a last sleepy effort to delay the inevitable, "goodnight nobody!" which was always my favorite line when I was a child. (In fact, the concept of a lapine nobody reappears with gleeful charm in the character of A. A. Milne's Rabbit, as he attempts to fool visitors by pretending to be nobody at home.) Now, the occasional rhyme gallops excitedly, making one think that there might be a reprieve from the inevitable sleep, but, alas, the old lady always whispers, "Hush." Then, even the world quietens.
The room in the book resembles, in my mind, the room we stayed in when we visited my grandparents' house, though that room was neither great nor green. When I was a child, the idea of a bedroom with a phone was unusual, but my grandparents had a phone in that spare room, and we children thought that was a marvel, playing with the dial, receiver in cradle, for hours. There we had no fireplace, and no kitten; balloons were reserved for special occasions. We had mittens, of course, and they were dried on racks like the one in the book. If we had a mouse, it was usually dead in a trap. The was a doll house, and a rocking chair, and my grandmother was always whispering Hush! At night, that room became very, very dark.
I suppose, then, that my affection for the book may be as unique as it is personal. And perhaps, readers of my age, with similar memories and taste, might purchase the book for young mothers, who, confused by the abundant accolades for Goodnight Moon might wonder, upon a first reading, "what's so great about this book?" and turn instead to the latest Elmo pablum. But I hope not, for, as I recall, a bowl full of mush is so much more substantial.