The Ruark Kids

Goodnight Bears


Is no one else troubled about this? Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown (pictures by Clement Hurd), the classic going-to-bed book (yada yada), opens with the presentation of various objects in the great green room. These include “a picture of the cow jumping over the moon,” and “there were three little bears sitting on chairs.” Now, the venerable Mr. Hurd depicts both of these as elaborately framed paintings. But Ms. Brown was more vague on the matter; it doesn’t say “pictures of the cow jumping over the moon and three little bears sitting on chairs” or “and there was a picture of three little bears sitting on chairs.”

To my mind’s eye, I see three bears hanging out in the green room with baby bunny. Awkward? Sure. Unclear what the bears do when the lights go off, the cats curl up, and bunny goes to sleep? Definitely. But nonetheless, a literal image of the text.

Which raises several questions, including did some text need to be cut to improve the pacing? Did Mr. Hurd put the bears into a picture in order to obviate the need for lengthy plot expositions to deal with three (possibly hungry) bears in a room with cats and rabbits? Was there an author/illustrator spat, of which this is the surviving manifestation?

The world may never know. (Actually, if I did some research perhaps the world would know, but I can’t be bothered right now.)


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