Goodnight Moon

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The Aural and Visual Feasts of Margaret Wise Brown


At The New Yorker, Anna Holmes reflects on the radical life of Goodnight, Moon author Margaret Wise Brown, and how she pushed the boundaries of children’s books. “When Brown was emerging as a writer, in the nineteen-thirties,” Holmes explains, “most books for young children drew on classic fables and folktales, providing moral instruction on each page. She rejected this orthodoxy in favor of stories that better reflected the preoccupations of young children, from sensual pleasures (the shape of an apple) to visceral emotions (fear of the dark). […] Even though her work embraced everyday subjects, it was far from banal. Brown incorporated influences from avant-garde literature, concentrating as much on the sound of words as on the words themselves. And she often commissioned illustrations from modernist painters who understood the allure of bold color. Brown helped create a new type of children’s literature that provided both aural and visual feasts.”

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