Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown

POINTS: 2 out of 10.

Bechdel: Nope
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story: 2 points. We both liked it.
Discretionary ideological points: 0 point

Goodnight Moon is about as iconic as they come. It’s possibly the classic bedtime story. It was originally published in 1947, and remains one of the most beloved bedtime books in the world.

But how does it stack up by our criteria here?

Well, it doesn’t pass the Bechdel, but it does have a female character! One that even speaks! (Okay, she only says “hush”, and she’s about as traditional in terms of gender role as it’s possible to be – the quintessential grandma with her knitting and her glasses – but frankly the way we’ve been going so far, I’ll take the “having a female character” thing.) There is no variety of characters, though in fairness there are only two characters unless you count the kittens and the animals in the pictures on the walls.

There’s not much to this book, really – no story to speak of, just a list of things to say goodnight to. And while I’ve read some creepy interpretations of this book that say it is about dying (because of the last few pages, in which we say goodbye to the stars, “noises” and “air”) which, given this is from the same mind who brought us The Runaway Bunny, I’m not entirely unconvinced by, I think it’s probably better to just take it at face value. Let’s say goodnight to all the things in a nice repetitive singsong way that will hopefully encourage the little darlings to whom it is being read to go the fuck to sleep.

I like it well enough. It has never taken up a solid place in my heart, but I think it’s just fine, and, despite the aforementioned nicely status quo gender role stuff, is really pretty harmless. Christopher likes it too. I wouldn’t say it is one of his all time favourites, but it does get picked for bedtime on a semi-regular basis.

Which really means there’s not that much to say about it. It’s okay. It doesn’t score high, but it’s not deeply objectionable.

I am going to actually recommend a better bedtime story book on this one though, because I do have a favourite, which is Jane Yolen’s How do dinosaurs say goodnight. I haven’t scored it, and I’m not sure it would score that highly, to tell the truth, but it is a delight, so I cannot resist the urge to mention it. 😀

What do you think? Was it one of your childhood favourites? Which are your favourite bedtime stories.

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