Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon is an American children's book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd. It was published on September 3, 1947, and is a highly acclaimed bedtime story.

Goodnight Moon
Book cover
AuthorMargaret Wise Brown
IllustratorClement Hurd
CountryUnited States
GenreChildren's literature
PublisherHarper & Brothers
Publication date
September 3, 1947
[E] 21
LC ClassPZ7.B8163 Go 1997
Preceded byThe Runaway Bunny 
Followed byMy World 

This book is the second in Brown and Hurd's "classic series", which also includes The Runaway Bunny and My World. The three books have been published together as a collection titled Over the Moon.[1]

Publication historyEdit

Illustrator Clement Hurd said in 1983 that initially the book was to be published using the pseudonym "Memory Ambrose" for Brown, with his illustrations credited to "Hurricane Jones".[2]

Goodnight Moon had poor initial sales: only 6,000 copies were sold upon initial release in fall 1947. Anne Carroll Moore, the influential children's librarian at the New York Public Library (NYPL), regarded it as "overly sentimental". The NYPL and other libraries did not acquire it at first.[3] During the post-World War II Baby Boom years, it slowly became a bestseller. Annual sales grew from about 1,500 copies in 1953 to almost 20,000 in 1970;[3] by 1990, the total number of copies sold exceeded 4 million.[4] As of 2007, the book sells about 800,000 copies annually[5] and by 2017 had cumulatively sold an estimated 48 million copies.[6] Goodnight Moon has been translated into French, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, Catalan, Hebrew, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Korean, Hmong, and German.[citation needed]

Brown, who died in 1952, bequeathed the royalties to the book (among many others) to Albert Clarke, who was the nine-year-old son of a neighbor when Brown died. Clarke, who squandered the millions of dollars the book earned him, believed that Brown was his mother, a claim others dismiss.[7]

In 2005, publisher HarperCollins digitally altered the photograph of illustrator Hurd, which had been on the book for at least twenty years, to remove a cigarette. Its editor-in-chief for children's books, Kate Jackson, said, "It is potentially a harmful message to very young [children]." HarperCollins had the reluctant permission of Hurd's son, Thacher Hurd, but the younger Hurd said the photo of Hurd with his arm and fingers extended, holding nothing, "looks slightly absurd to me".[8] HarperCollins has said it will likely replace the picture with a different, unaltered photo of Hurd in future editions.[needs update][citation needed]

Other editionsEdit

In addition to several octavo and duodecimo paperback editions, Goodnight Moon is available as a board book and in "jumbo" edition designed for use with large groups.

  • 1991, US, HarperFestival ISBN 0-694-00361-1, Pub date 30 September 1991, board book
  • 1997, US, HarperCollins ISBN 0-06-027504-9, Pub date 28 February 1997, Hardback 50th anniversary edition
  • 2007, US, HarperCollins ISBN 0-694-00361-1, Pub date 23 January 2007, Board book 60th anniversary edition

In 2008, Thacher Hurd used his father's artwork from Goodnight Moon to produce Goodnight Moon 123: A Counting Book. In 2010, HarperCollins used artwork from the book to produce Goodnight Moon's ABC: An Alphabet Book.

In 2015, Loud Crow Interactive Inc. released a Goodnight Moon interactive app.


The text is a rhyming poem, describing an anthropomorphic bunny's bedtime ritual of saying "good night" to various inanimate and living objects in the bunny's bedroom: a red balloon, a pair of socks, the bunny's dollhouse, a bowl of mush, and two kittens, among others; despite the kittens, a mouse is present in each spread.[9] The book begins at 7:00 PM, and ends at 8:10 PM, with each spread being spaced 10 minutes apart, as measured by the two clocks in the room, and reflected in the rising moon.[10] The illustrations alternate between 2-page black-and-white spreads of objects and 2-page color spreads of the room, like the other books in the series; this was a common cost-saving technique at the time.[9]

Allusions and referencesEdit

Goodnight Moon contains a number of references to Brown and Hurd's The Runaway Bunny, and to traditional children's literature. For example, the room of Goodnight Moon generally resembles the next-to-last spread of The Runaway Bunny, where the little bunny becomes a little boy and runs into a house, and the mother bunny becomes the little boy's mother; shared details include the fireplace and the painting by the fireplace of "The Cow Jumping Over the Moon", though other details differ (the colors of the walls and floor are switched, for instance). The painting is itself a reference to the nursery rhyme "Hey Diddle Diddle", where a cow jumps over the moon[11] However, when reprinted in Goodnight Moon, the udder was reduced to an anatomical blur to avoid the controversy that E.B. White's Stuart Little had undergone when published in 1945.[12] The painting of three bears, sitting in chairs, alludes to "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" (originally "The Story of the Three Bears"),[11] and itself has a copy of the cow jumping over the moon painting. The other painting in the room, which is never explicitly mentioned in the text, portrays a bunny fly-fishing for another bunny, using a carrot as bait. This picture is also a reference to The Runaway Bunny, where it is the first colored spread, when the mother says that if the little bunny becomes a fish, she will become a fisherman and fish for him. The top shelf of the bookshelf, below the Runaway Bunny painting, holds an open copy of The Runaway Bunny, and there is a copy of Goodnight Moon on the nightstand.

A telephone is mentioned early in the book. The primacy of the reference to the telephone indicates that the bunny is in his mother's room and his mother's bed.[13]

Literary significance and receptionEdit

In a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association listed the book as one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children".[14] In 2012 it was ranked number four among the "Top 100 Picture Books" in a survey published by School Library Journal.[15]

From the time of its publication in 1947 and until 1972, the book was "banned" by the New York Public Library due to the then head children's librarian Anne Carroll Moore's hatred of the book.[16] Moore was considered a top taste-maker and arbiter of children's books not only in the New York Public Library, but for libraries nationwide in the United States, even well past her official retirement.[17][16] The book was stocked on the library's shelves only in 1972, at the time of the 25th anniversary of its publication.[16] It did not appear on the NYPL's 2020 list of the 10 most-checked-out books in the library's history.[17]

Author Susan Cooper writes that the book is possibly the only "realistic story" to gain the universal affection of a fairy-tale, although she also noted that it is actually a "deceptively simple ritual" rather than a story.[18]

Writer Ellen Handler Spitz suggests that Goodnight Moon teaches "young children that life can be trusted, that life has stability, reliability, and durability."[19]

Video adaptationEdit

On July 15, 1999, Goodnight Moon was adapted into a 26-minute animated family video special, which debuted on HBO Family in December of that year,[20] and was released on VHS on April 15, 2000, and DVD in 2005, in the United States. The special features an animated short of Goodnight Moon, narrated by Susan Sarandon, along with six other animated segments of children's bedtime stories and lullabies with live-action clips of children reflecting on a series of bedtime topics in between, a reprise of Goodnight Moon at the end, and the Everly Brothers' "All I Have To Do Is Dream" playing over the closing credits. The video was notable when it featured a boy interviewing about dreams but then stumbles over his sentence, which soon became a meme in 2011 when it was uploaded on YouTube. He was referencing a line from the 1997 Disney animated film Hercules.[21]

Here are the other tales and lullabies featured in the video:

In popular cultureEdit

The first episode of the Warner Bros. animated television series Animaniacs included a spoof of Goodnight Moon named "Nighty-Night Toon".[22]

The Goodnight Moon Game, by Briar Patch, is a memory game for very young children. It won a 1998 Parents' Choice Gold Award[23] and a 1999 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.[24]

In 2010, CollegeHumor posted five science fiction spoofs of well-known children's stories, including a mashup of Goodnight Moon and Frank Herbert's novel Dune, entitled Goodnight Dune.[25]

A parody written by David Milgrim and published under the pseudonym “Ann Droyd” in October 2011, Goodnight iPad: a Parody for the next generation “shows a very different homelife 50 years later, with mobile devices, social networks, and non-stop streaming media.”[26]

The University of Minnesota Press published the 2015 book Goodnight Loon, full of Minnesota Northwoods language. The original text's bunny is replaced by the university's mascot, Goldy Gopher.[27][28]

Mad Magazine published a parody of the book starring Batman, titled "Goodnight, Batcave".


  1. ^ Brown, Margaret Wise and Clement Hurd. Over the Moon: A Collection of First Books (HarperCollins, 2006).
  2. ^ Hurd, Clement. "Remembering Margaret Wise Brown." Horn Book Magazine Vol. 59 (5). October 1983. 553-560. 552.
  3. ^ a b Meagan Flynn. "Who could hate 'Goodnight Moon'? This powerful New York librarian." The Washington Post. via San Francisco Chronicle. January 14, 2020.
  4. ^ "The Writer's Almanac for the week of May 21, 2007". Archived from the original on August 9, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
  5. ^ Adcock, Joe. "Turning a tiny book into a musical? No problem," Seattle Post-Intelligencer (January 11, 2007).
  6. ^ Crawford, Amy (17 January 2017). "The Surprising Ingenuity Behind "Goodnight Moon"". Smithsonian. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  7. ^ Prager, Joshua (September 8, 2000). "Runaway Money". Wall Street Journal. p. A1. Retrieved 2007-03-26.
  8. ^ Wyatt, Edward (November 17, 2005). "'Goodnight Moon,' Smokeless Version". New York Times. Retrieved 2005-11-23.
  9. ^ a b Andrea (2009-11-14). "Things You Might Not Have Known About Goodnight Moon". Archived from the original on 2021-01-05.
  10. ^ Chuck Bueter (1997). "Good(night) Moons Rising". GLPA Proceedings. Archived from the original on 2019-08-28.
  11. ^ a b Leanne Barrett (25 January 2019). "Review: Goodnight Moon". Kids' Book Review. Archived from the original on 2019-02-02.
  12. ^ Marcus, Leonard S. Making of Goodnight Moon (New York: HarperTrophy, 1997), p. 21.
  13. ^ Pearson, Claudia. Have a Carrot: Oedipal Theory and Symbolism in Margaret Wise Brown's Runaway Bunny Trilogy. Look Again Press (2010). ISBN 978-1-4524-5500-6.
  14. ^ National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved 2012-08-19.
  15. ^ Bird, Elizabeth (July 6, 2012). "Top 100 Picture Books Poll Results". "A Fuse #8 Production". Blog. School Library Journal ( Archived from the original on December 4, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-19.
  16. ^ a b c Kois, Dan (2020-01-13). "How One Librarian Tried to Squash Goodnight Moon". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  17. ^ a b Flynn, Meagan. "Who could hate 'Goodnight Moon'? This powerful New York librarian". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  18. ^ Cooper, Susan (1981). Betsy Hearne; Marilyn Kay (eds.). Celebrating Children's Books: Essays on Children's Literature in Honor of Zena Sutherland. New York: Lathrop, Lee, and Shepard Books. pp. 15. ISBN 0-688-00752-X.
  19. ^ Spitz, Ellen Handler. Inside Picture Books (Yale University Press, 2000), p. 34.
  20. ^ Time Warner (July 15, 1999). "Fairy Tales, Bedtime Classics and Other Magical Stories Lead HBO's Fall Family Programming Lineup". Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  21. ^ Know Your Meme. "Have You Ever Had A Dream Like This?". Retrieved March 27, 2021.
  22. ^ "Nighty-Night Toon". Animaniacs References Guide. 2013. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  23. ^ "Goodnight Moon Game". Parents' Choice Foundation. Retrieved 2017-01-16.
  24. ^ Clifford, Jane (December 5, 1998). "Pros and kid testers pick the best". San Diego Union-Tribune, The (CA) – via America's News (Newsbank, Inc.).
  25. ^ "Five Sci-Fi Children's Books". College Humor.
  26. ^ mikl-em (7 November 2011). "Goodnight iPad, A Parody of the Children's Book Goodnight Moon". Laughing Squid. Laughing Squid. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  27. ^ "Goodnight Loon". University of Minnesota Press. 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-07.
  28. ^ Grossman, Mary Ann (November 30, 2014). "Children's books for the holidays and year-round". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved 2015-07-07.