The Blog Squad

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Goodnight Moon stirs controversy? ... but there's an unanswered mystery

I saw the headline on AOL: "Goodnight Moon goes smokeless. Cigarette airbrushed from children's book". I pushed the enter button and ran up the steps before the page loaded. I quickly grabbed one of the three copies in our house from my son's bookcase. I could never have missed a cigarette! I know every nuance of that book. When we forget to bring it on trips I just recite it to the kids (OK, it's not exactly The Iliad). I quickly flipped through the pages — no cigarette anywhere. Then I got back to the computer and saw the loaded page. The cigarette in question is being airbrushed from the hand of Clement Hurd, the illustrator of the book, in the photo of him that appears on the back of the book. That explained it — we only have the board book version in our house that doesn't have the photos of Margaret Wise Brown and Hurd on the back. As you might imagine, this has caused an enormous controversy already. Publisher Harper Collins says it is taking the cigarette out of Hurd's hand for the 60th anniversary edition of the children's classic because it sends a bad message to kids and doesn't need to be there. Of course, there is the contingent who believe that to alter a classic in any way is to destroy it beyond recognition. Never mind that we're talking about the back cover. Let's get a grip, everyone. What's important is what's on the inside of this magical book — the little mouse darting around the room, the moon rising in the window, the room darkening, the mush disappearing, the fire dancing, the clock hands ticking away, the copies of Goodnight Moon on the nightstand and The Runaway Bunny on the bookshelf. And then there's the red balloon that bedevils me every time I read it. Where does it go? It disappears, string and all, after "Good night light and the red balloon ..." and reappears on the last page with "Goodnight noise everywhere." Who cares about the dumb cigarette? I want to know about the balloon! There's your controversy!


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