Sunday, July 10, 2011

Random Collections of Words

This has been one of my son's favorite books since he was an infant. I used to hold him in my lap and read it to him before bed, pointing out each picture as I read. It didn't take long before he was pointing things out for himself. And by the time he could talk he was reciting it right along with me. Goodnight Moon is rightfully a classic.

So naturally when my daughter came along it quickly became one of her favorites too. I mean, how could you not love the comb, and the brush, and the bowl full of mush? (Not to mention the quiet old lady whispering 'hush.')

Even with all of the books that they have, they still pick this one as their bedtime story at least once a week. And each time we pull it out my daughter has to "read it" first. She knows the entire story by heart, and recites it perfectly. I have to say that it's one of the most adorable things I've ever witnessed.

So when the kids noticed the picture on the back advertising the "companion" book, of course they wanted to read it too. It took some searching, but I finally found it at an online bookstore. When it arrived we pulled it out and read it excitedly... only to discover what a huge disappointment it is.

I mean, it's not like Goodnight Moon is a masterpiece in storytelling or anything, but at least it does tell a story. All of the words follow along logically as the little bunny says goodnight to everything around him. It's not Shakespeare, but it's a cute story.

The "companion" book, however, is not. The closest that I can come to accurately describing it is to say that it's a collection of random words and phrases put together on paper. We have masterpieces like:



And she ends it with:



I know I'm being kind of a harsh critic. And I would feel bad for it, but... really? That's the "companion" to Goodnight Moon?! My kids were SO disappointed. When it was over they just kind of looked at me with a perplexed expression. (If they could have articulated it, I know they would have been saying the same thing I was.)

I generally try not to be cynical, but I couldn't help but think, after reading this, that apparently after you write a book that sells millions of copies and is loved by children everywhere, you can just put any random words next to pictures, call it a book, and people will buy it. 

So parents, I offer you this advice: Don't bother. There's a good chance that you and your kids will be disappointed.

And to my readers, I offer this promise: My writing will always have meaning. I don't care how many millions of copies I sell, or how many languages my work is translated into. I will never just put random words on paper and call it a story.


  1. A series of books should be in the same theme. I will not be looking for this second one. The first I am looking for now!

  2. Honestly, I would probably like the companion one better. I never got, "Goodnight Moon." You say there's a story? Really? I've never seen one in that book myself. Saying good night to things is not a story. It's more like rambling or babbling. I like the different perspectives in the descriptions of the second book. Looks like it could have been done better, but I definitely get what they were going for.

  3. I love goodnight Moon. I found you from facebook and the challenge. Thanks for caring. Jackie your newest fan.

  4. I like the rhythm in both of them, though I have just seen the second one here! I did not even know there was another companion book of goodnight moon.
    However, the same writer wrote another book, a very cute one, about a bunny and his mommy, and wanting his independence. Why the title eludes me right now is beyond me, lol. But it is a very sweet book.
    Thing about books, like any art, is we all get to have our our opinion of it!

    OHH!! It's called the Runaway Bunny.

    Peace and light
    Elissa Joy

  5. Mandy never LOVED Goodnight Moon, though it was pleasantly enjoyable enough. Her favorite when she was very little was Moo, Baa, La-la-la. We liked the goofy humor, which she would either correct or expand upon with silliness. From your example pages, looks like the author of My World had a message about perspectives. You might have been able to appreciate it more in other circumstances if you hadn't been expecting another Goodnight Moon. The number of stripes on a bumble bee representing the number of different ways you can look at things is too advanced for preschoolers. And perhaps like a zebra, you can't change a bumble bee's (or your own) stripes. But I wonder if you read My World in a different frame of mind, or with kids who didn't already appreciate differences, sharing, etc., would you find some surprising value?

  6. Ah, Goodnight Moon was a fave for all 3 of my children. From what I can see here we wouldn't have liked the other one. Someone mentioned the Runaway Bunny. That is another one of our faves.
    Thanks for your thoughts on this! Pamela

  7. Chrissie - thank you for clarifying the stripes on the bumble bee. That's just so awesome to me. Wow - I could buy this book and meditate on it. I might do that and feature it on my other blog someday, haha. :)

  8. @Tiili - I'm always a little hesitant before I specifically recommend or don't recommend something, just because we all have different taste. All I can do is speak from my experience, and say that my kids love Goodnight Moon and didn't really care for My World at all.

    @Ame - Ok, maybe I was being a little overly generous with my use of the term "story." :) But to me (and my kids) it all flowed together, and seemed to fit. And it worked great for a bedtime routine, especially with my son, because we would finish it and then say our own "goodnight" to everyone in our family/the stuff in his room, and it put him to sleep really well. I always love hearing different perspectives, though. Thanks for sharing!

    @jackiepaulson - Thanks ... and welcome! :)

    @inspiredej - We actually have that one, too. Based on my observations, my kids would rank it somewhere between the other two. (Goodnight Moon is still the favorite, but they have fun with Runaway Bunny too.) And you're absolutely right - we're not all going to feel the same about books (or art, or music, or movies, etc.) That's part of the beauty of the world, I think.

    @Chrissie - That's a very good point. I know we've had conversations before about how expectations can color reactions. Perhaps if I had read it without any preconceptions I might have felt differently, but I don't know. I can fully appreciate what she was trying to do; I just think it could have been done a lot better.

  9. Ame - LOL. I love that idea. There could definitely be an in-depth argument made for what age group could most benefit from My World. I think Chrissie made a good point about the ideas being lost on preschoolers (who are the target audience) but you bring up an interesting perspective about what lessons adults could take from it.

    I think I might have viewed this a lot differently if my kids hadn't been so disappointed. I think that's really what led to my being so disappointed with it. But at their age, they're looking for something cute that they can follow along with, and this just didn't do it for them.

    Maybe you can write a "My World for Adults" meditation guide. I would probably enjoy that a lot more. :)