Goodnight Moon

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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 

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. It features a bunny saying "good night" to everything around: "Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon. Goodnight light, and the red balloon ...".

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 history[edit]

Illustrator Clement Hurd claims that initially the book was to be published using the pseudonym "Memory Ambrose" for Brown, with his illustrations credited to "Hurricane Jones." (Jones is the name of a character in Five Little Firemen by Brown and Edith Thacher Hurd.[2]

Goodnight Moon slowly became a bestseller. Annual sales grew from about 1,500 copies in 1953 to 20,000 in 1970; by 1990, the total number of copies sold was more than 4 million.[3] Currently, the book sells about 800,000 copies annually[4] and in 2017 has sold an estimated 48 million copies cumulatively.[5] Goodnight Moon has been translated into French, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, Catalan, Hebrew, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Korean, Hmong, and German.

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. In 2000, reporter Joshua Prager detailed in the Wall Street Journal the troubled life of Mr. Clarke who has squandered the millions of dollars the book has earned him and who believes that Brown was his mother, a claim others dismiss.[6]

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".[7] HarperCollins has said it will likely replace the picture with a different, unaltered photo of Hurd in future editions. In response, a satirical article demanded the removal of other potentially dangerous objects in the book, such as the fireplace and balloon (a choking hazard for young children).[8]

Other editions[edit]

In addition to multiple octavo and duodecimo paperback editions, Goodnight Moon is available in a board book edition, a book whose pages are actually stiff cardboard to make it suitable to give to a very young child, as well as a "jumbo" edition, suitable 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, two kittens, etc.

Allusions and references[edit]

Goodnight Moon contains a number of references to The Runaway Bunny. For example, the painting hanging over the fireplace of "The Cow Jumping Over the Moon" first appeared in The Runaway Bunny. However, when reprinted in Goodnight Moon, the udder "for caution's sake" was reduced to an anatomical blur to avoid the controversy that E.B. White's Stuart Little had undergone when published in 1945.[9] 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. The top shelf of the bookshelf holds an open copy of The Runaway Bunny, and there is a copy of Goodnight Moon on the nightstand.

The telephone is mentioned early in the book, but is absent from the litany of "Good night ..." salutations. The primacy of the reference to the telephone indicates that the bunny is in his mother's room and his mother's bed.[10]

Literary significance and reception[edit]

The book's lyrics exemplifies the concept of object permanence; as writer Ellen Handler Spitz puts it, it teaches "young children that life can be trusted, that life has stability, reliability, and durability."[11]

Based on a 2007 on-line poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children".[12] In 2012 it was ranked number four among the "Top 100 Picture Books" in a survey published by School Library Journal.[13]

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.[14]

Video adaptation[edit]

On Thursday, 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,[15] and was released on VHS on Saturday, 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.

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

In popular culture[edit]

In 1993, the Warner Bros. animated television series Animaniacs's first episode, in its first season, included a light spoof of Goodnight Moon named "Nighty-Night Toon".[16]

The Goodnight Moon Game, by Briar Patch, is a memory game for very young children. It won a 1998 Parents' Choice Gold Award[17] and a 1999 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.[18]

In a 2000 episode of The Simpsons, the family attends the Springfield Festival of Books and sees Christopher Walken reading Goodnight Moon to an audience of terrified children. This is a reference to Walken's infamous reading of The Three Little Pigs on Channel 4's Saturday Zoo.

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'.[19] In 2011, author Julia Yu adapted the image on CollegeHumor into a full homage of Moon, also titled Goodnight Dune.[20]

Also in 2011, composer Eric Whitacre published a setting for voice accompanied either by harp and strings or by piano; it was recorded by his wife, soprano Hila Plitmann. Whitacre wrote, "... I must have read Goodnight Moon to my son a thousand times... Somewhere around reading number 500 I began hearing little musical fragments as I read, and over time those fragments began to blossom into a simple, sweet lullaby. I knew it was a long shot, but I asked my manager, Claire Long, to contact HarperCollins and see if they would allow the text to be set to music. To my surprise and delight they agreed – the first time they had ever allowed Goodnight Moon to be used in such a way."[21] On 20 July 2018, a choral arrangement for SATB & Piano was released alongside a digital single by the Eric Whitacre Singers.[22]

In the Mad Men 2012 season 5 episode “The Other Woman”, Pete is shown reading Goodnight Moon to his young daughter.

In a 2012 episode of Family Guy, Lois tucks Stewie into bed and reads him Goodnight, Town from Footloose.

In 2013, GWAR lead singer Oderus Urungus did a "live audio read" of the book.[23]

Also in 2013, ZeniMax Online Studios created a parody of the book titled "Goodnight Mundus" for the MMO The Elder Scrolls Online. The game's loremaster Lawrence Schick is seen reading the book aloud in a video parody posted by their official YouTube account[24] and the contents of the video were later added as a book in the game.

Also, in a book by Cal Armistead called "Being Henry David", when the main character is sleeping outside near a dumpster, the character does his own version of Goodnight Moon by saying goodnight to things near the dumpster.

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.[25][26]

Goodnight Moon is featured in the CBC children's programme The Friendly Giant.


  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). Oct 1983. 553-560. 552.
  3. ^ "The Writer's Almanac for the week of May 21, 2007".
  4. ^ Adcock, Joe. "Turning a tiny book into a musical? No problem," Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Jan. 11, 2007).
  5. ^ Crawford, Amy (17 January 2017). "The Surprising Ingenuity Behind "Goodnight Moon"". Smithsonian. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  6. ^ Prager, Joshua (September 8, 2000). "Runaway Money". Wall Street Journal. p. A1. Retrieved 2007-03-26.
  7. ^ Wyatt, Edward (November 17, 2005). "'Goodnight Moon,' Smokeless Version". New York Times. Retrieved 2005-11-23.
  8. ^ Karbo, Karen (December 4, 2005). "Goodbye, Moon". New York Times. Retrieved 2006-12-06.
  9. ^ Marcus, Leonard S. Making of Goodnight Moon (New York: HarperTrophy, 1997), p. 21.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Spitz, Ellen Handler. Inside Picture Books (Yale University Press, 2000), p. 34.
  12. ^ National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved 2012-08-19.
  13. ^ Bird, Elizabeth (July 6, 2012). "Top 100 Picture Books Poll Results". "A Fuse #8 Production". Blog. School Library Journal ( Retrieved 2012-08-19.
  14. ^ 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. p. 15. ISBN 0-688-00752-X.
  15. ^ Time Warner (July 15, 1999). "Fairy Tales, Bedtime Classics and Other Magical StoriesLead HBO's Fall Family Programming Lineup". Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  16. ^ "Nighty-Night Toon". Animaniacs References Guide. 2013. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  17. ^ "Goodnight Moon Game". Parents' Choice Foundation. Retrieved 2017-01-16.
  18. ^ Clifford, Jane (December 5, 1998). "Pros and kid testers pick the best". San Diego Union-Tribune, The (CA) – via America's News (Newsbank, Inc.).
  19. ^ "Five Sci-Fi Children's Books". College Humor.
  20. ^ "Goodnight Dune". Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  21. ^ Eric Whitacre, notes to "Goodnight Moon," URL=
  22. ^ "Goodnight Moon - SATB Choir & Piano". Eric Whitacre. 2018-07-20. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  23. ^ Hartmann, Graham. "GWAR’s Oderus Urungus Reads ‘Goodnight Moon’ – Exclusive Video," (October 21, 2013).
  24. ^ "Loremaster's Bedtime Tales, Vol. I "Goodnight Mundus"" ZeniMax Online Studios. ZeniMax Online Studios, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016..
  25. ^ "Goodnight Loon". University of Minnesota Press. 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-07.
  26. ^ Grossman, Mary Ann (November 30, 2014). "Children's books for the holidays and year-round". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved 2015-07-07.