The classic children’s book has some odd secrets
I have read Goodnight Moon so much that I have begun seeing things. Some of them are real. Here are five of the most interesting Easter eggs (ie, hidden objects) I have found in the Margaret Wise Brown children’s book, Goodnight Moon, illustrated by Clement Hurd.
I’ve ordered them from most to least surprising.
1 | Fishing For… Bunnies?
This is the only Easter egg I find truly baffling. On the far wall, there is a picture of a rabbit fly-fishing. I never paid much attention, but if you look closely, something is jumping out of the water. And it’s not a fish.
The rabbit is catching what appears to be a little bunny, with a carrot. I don’t know how else to interpret this. It’s definitely a rabbit jumping out of the stream, and it’s definitely a carrot on the end of the hook. The more I think about this, the more disturbing it is, so I try not to think about it. But, now you’re thinking about it so, uh, sorry.
2 | The Bunny Takes Over An Hour To Sleep
There are two prominent clocks throughout the room. On the first page, you can see that it’s 7 (PM, presumably). And on the last, it reads 8:10. Hence the bunny takes a generous 70 minutes to fall asleep. Having young kids myself, this is a long time but not improbable. It’s impressive that the nanny never intervenes throughout. She appears a few pages in and never visible does anything besides knit. Near the end, she (invisibly) gets up, turns out the light and is gone just before the last page.
To get a sense of time in this universe, there are 15 double spreads in the book. Each takes about 10 seconds to read, but in rabbit-world, this little bunny is squirming around for 4.66 minutes.
If you want to get obsessive about it, which I am, this is a time-dilation of 1:28, going one layer down. In the film Inception, their strongest sedatives give a time dilation ratio of 1:20. So this book really should be enough to put your kids to sleep.
3 | Bunny-ception
There really are conceptual levels within this book. On the bunny’s bedside table, there is a copy of… Goodnight Moon. Presumably, it is exactly the same book, contain the same page, with another book-inside-the-book. And so on, forever.
Theoretically, each book contains an infinity of bunny-verses. If it’s like the film Inception, time would dilate and each bunny will take longer and longer to sleep, the further down you go. It takes the bunny we see 70 minutes to sleep. The bunny inside of his book will take over 32 hours. The bunny inside that book will take 38 days. It’s trippy.
Another minor thing note is that the bowl of mush is huge. It’s further away than the bunny but appears to be the same size. Meaning the mush may be bigger than the bunny. No wonder it’s unfinished.
6 | Product Placement
Below that scary doll, there is another book — Runaway Bunny, also by Wise Brown and Hurd. This, I think, doesn’t open up the same ontological questions as bunny’s bedside book. While Runaway Bunny does contain a bunny, it is a field bunny and not a humanoid creature like this. It does not, I think, open up a wormhole of recursive universes.
If you look closely, however, it is a prompt to buy another book. Margaret Wise Hurd was a fascinating and brilliant author who died unfortunately young at 42. She wrote nearly 100 books and as you can see she had a unique perspective into the immediate inner world of a child. I haven’t read Runaway Bunny but I’m sure it’s excellent.
5 | The Mouse
This is the most obvious Easter egg. Each picture of the whole room has the little mouse hiding in it. The fellow keeps moving, and I find it fun to ask my kids to find him each time.
He somehow avoids the kittens, eats some mush and ends up being the last one awake, gazing at the eponymous moon.
I love this book. I read it as a child and read it to my children. Inshallah, they will read it to theirs. It’s simple, but there’s something about the repetition, poetry and occasional whimsy of this story that makes it timeless, perhaps infinitely so, given that it contains multiple universes within.
Like anything else you can go way too deep into this work of art, but it is also an incredibly functional book for a parent. It helps put my kids to sleep, and never bores me, though I’ve read it a hundred times.