Essay on Margaret Wise Brown's The Making of Goodnight Moon

Essay on Margaret Wise Brown's The Making of Goodnight Moon

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Margaret Wise Brown's The Making of Goodnight Moon


The numerous books that Margaret Wise Brown wrote during her short career hold a special place in the hearts of children and their parents. Many readers have no understanding of the scrutiny a book goes through before it reaches the printing press, a book's ultimate goal. Even though Brown would publish several books a year, none is more cherished than "the hypnotic, mystery-laden words and joyful pictures of Goodnight Moon" (Marcus, The Making of Goodnight Moon, 3).

Born through a dream, the text of Goodnight Moon was set to paper in nearly finalized form. Margaret Wise Brown awoke one morning in 1945 and shortly thereafter had the full story designed before her (Marcus, The Making of Goodnight Moon, 16). The book was originally called Goodnight Room, and Ursula Nordstrom, an editor at Harper & Brothers, was the first to hear the manuscript later that day (Marcus, The Making of Goodnight Moon, 16). The story is a child's nighttime prayer to all of his daytime playthings (Marcus, Margaret Wise Brown, 187). Leonard Marcus describes the book as "spoken in part in the voice of the provider, the good parent or guardian who can summon forth a secure, whole existence simply by naming particulars 'And it is partly spoken in the voice of a child, who takes possession of that world by naming the particulars all over again'" (187). Everything in the small rabbit's room is bid goodnight, from mush to the mouse that is seen in the picture. The book ends very slowly, as sleep falls upon "the great green room" (187).

Clement Hurd was Brown and Nordstrom's first choice as illustrator for Goodnight Moon, but since he was away in the war, Nordstrom began looking for other artists (Mar...


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... it to their friends (216). The popularity of the book lead the New York Public Library in 1973 to place it on their shelves (216). The only explanation for the book's continuing popularity is the first generation Goodnight Mooners reading the loved book to their children and the cycle perpetuating itself. The only sad aspect of the book's history is that Margaret Wise Brown did not live to see this boom in Goodnight Moon's popularity due to her tragic death in 1952 (Marcus, The Making of Goodnight Moon, 26).

Works Cited

Marcus, Leonard S. The Making of Goodnight Moon: A 50th Anniversary Retrospective. New York: HarperCollins, 1997.

Marcus, Leonard S. Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992. pp. 183-219.

Nordstrom, Ursula. Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom. Ed. Leonard S. Marcus. New York: HarperCollins, 1998.

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