"In the great, green room There was a telephone And a red balloon and a picture of . . ." page 1
"Goodnight stars, goodnight air goodnight noises everywhere..." page 10
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
A few years ago I stumbled across an article written by a blogger with a young child, who asked the simple question "Why does my kid love this book so much?"
"I mean," she continued, "C'mon. The colors are garish, there's no story and all it does is name everything in this really weird room. And I have to read it 5 TIMES EVERY NIGHT!!!"
I've always loved this book, and her comments surprised me. I remembered her comments when Hallmark came out with this ornament in 2017. There's Sweet Bunnykins, all tucked up in bed - a bed the same garish red and green as the book, mind you - and. . .he's reading Goodnight Moon! Even though the book also portrays Bunny sleeping in this exact bed (sans the book about himself), one wonders how he can actually fall asleep with so much visual noise going on around him.
But the colors and the naming are exactly the whole point of this book. It's why young children love it so much. The ability to recognize and name things not only marks a stage in development, it's also a sign of a healthy human psyche. It's one of the jobs Adam was given in the Garden of Eden.
The book of Genesis says: 2:19] So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. [2:20] The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner.
Since this naming took place before the fall of Adam and Eve, we may be sure that Adam named things well, fully and appropriately. In other words, the name of the object revealed two things: its nature and its meaning. Although only Adam (and later Eve) was made in the image of God, everything God created revealed certain aspects of him. For example, dogs are symbols of loyalty. They don't just learn to be loyal, as if it's something they put on over their true nature, loyalty IS their nature.
So when Adam was naming things, like Bunnykins in Goodnight Moon, he was understanding and revealing the nature and meaning of the created thing before him. That same understanding is why Goodnight Moon still resonates with young children (and the young at heart.) This little, simple book clearly shows that everything has a value, from the "comb and the brush and the bowl full of mush" to the "quiet old lady, whispering 'hush'." Because everything has a value, it must also have a proper place. The little bunny looks around him and names the items he sees, and places them all in their proper place - within the great green room, the place of childhood, the place of a softly burning hearth, of the wise, gentle woman watching over him, of the food in the bowl, and the red balloon, symbolizing all the wonderful possibilities of what is yet to come. All of these things are named and addressed individually. The world is not a place of chaos and confusion. Rather, it a place of warmth and love, where things can be named, their value appreciated, and their place understood. It is a tremendously comforting and hopeful view of the world, full of color and life and peace.
But the ornament takes this view one step further. The bunny in the ornament is actually reading Goodnight Moon. The bunny in this ornament doesn't actually represent the bunny in the story. He represents the children - and their parents- who read the book. Like that bunny, we still must pause and reflect, and turn from chaos and confusion, to notice and name what is in our world, so that, like Adam, we can truly understand and value the order that was "in the beginning" and try to recapture it in our lives.