Thank You and Good Night: In Praise of Classic Bedtime Stories

Our son Jackson graduated from high school on Saturday. Cause for celebration, yes, but it also has me feeling a bit nostalgic. I love, respect and admire this young man who towers over me, and love that we can have adult conversations about all sorts of things—from news headlines to song lyrics to Donald Trump’s latest Twitter war.

But I miss my little boy.

And one of the things I miss most was our nightly ritual of reading together, Jackson snuggled up tight between my husband and me.

I was reminded of this ritual a few days ago when I picked up Thank You and Good Night by Patrick McDonnell  (Little Brown, 2015).

Thank You and Good Night by Patrick McDonnel

The book pays homage to a bedtime classic—one familiar to all of us here—that we read with Jackson countless times.

Which one? Here’s a hint (click on images to enlarge):

Goodnight Moon interior scene

Yep, Goodnight Moon.

What’s the connection? First, there are the main characters’ names: Maggie (after author Margaret Wise Brown) and Clement (after illustrator Clement Hurd). Clement is a bunny dressed in blue-striped pajamas, much like the one in Goodnight Moon. Then there’s the little mouse, the red balloon, the starry night and those distinctive and familiar curtains.

McDonnell, curtains

But the book is more than a tribute to a well-loved classic (or two or three—Babar and Winnie the Pooh are also referenced here). It’s a warm, gently funny story of friendship that does what the best bedtime books do: It reassures children that they’re safe and loved, and speaks to them in a calming cadence that—with any luck—will lull them into a deep and abiding slumber (please!).

It also offers a sweet poem at the end, one I can imagine families reciting together:

McDonnell Sun and Moon

Then it wraps up softly with quiet scenes of love and gratitude.

McDonnell thank you

McDonnell, good night

Just perfect for bedtime snuggling. What better way to end the day?

 

Linda Ashman

Linda Ashman is the author of more than 35 picture books, as well as The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books, a “how to” e-book for picture book writers.

18 Comments:

  1. Patrick McDonnell’s art always makes me smile – and these glimpses into THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT are no exception! What a beautiful combination of nostalgic and new! Thank YOU for showcases this one. I can’t wait to get it!

  2. Haven’t seen it yet, but I love it already! Thanks for this, Linda.

  3. Looks beautiful!

  4. Congrats to your graduate! My son graduated on Sunday, so I’m having similar feelings. This book looks great, thanks for sharing.

  5. Here’s another that I can’t wait to see. Thank you for sharing and all the best to Jackson!

  6. Very soporific . . . like warm milk!

  7. Thanks! Putting it on my list. I love the connections to Goodnight Moon (although I’ve read that one a few too many times to enjoy it anymore). Oh, and I just got my older daughter back from her first year away at school. It’s been so fulfilling to see her excitement and growth that I find myself less nostalgic than I would have thought.

  8. This looks like the absolute sweetest. Those little animals all lined up in bed?! So heart-wrenchingly cute. Also, how brave and clever to make this goodnight story pay such direct homage to Goodnight Moon. Thanks, Linda!

  9. I miss those times, too!

    Your post just took me back to 2000. 🙂

  10. You mean yesterday? Seems like it sometimes. (And other times, like a million years ago!)

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