Most of you know Goodnight Moon, where a little bunny goes to bed. There are a number of subtle details in the Clement Hurd’s artwork that you only pick up on after reading the book several. hundred. times.
(FYI multiple updates on this post, check the bottom)
There’s the mouse, and the moon rising in the window, and the art on the walls referencing other Margaret Wise Brown books. And then there’s the clock. It’s something I gradually noticed over the past few years, and last night I decided, hey, GIF…
Turns out the little bunny bedtime ritual takes an hour and ten minutes, starting at 7 and lights out at 8:10, which seems about right.
Protip: If your friends are having kids, getting them Goodnight Moon (and/or a set of Sandra Boyton books) is always a good bet. If you *don’t* like them, or are in search of a retaliatory gift, get them the Melissa and Doug “Band in the Box” (which has nearly the same color scheme as the book now that I think about it…)
Incidentally a set of unpublished manuscripts by Margaret Wise Brown were just published! NPR interviewed Amy Gary who found them:
GARY: I was a young publisher and was looking for things that I could reprint of Margaret’s. And I was looking through all of these old books at her sister’s home. And her sister said oh yes, there’s this wonderful manuscript she was working on, but I’ve got it in the trunk and her barn. She was living in Vermont at the time. I thought, oh my goodness…
GARY: …I wonder if any of these papers are actually still left.
WERTHEIMER: Eaten by mice.
GARY: Yes. That was my first thought. So she opened it up one day for me and literally, the trunk is filled, end to end, with onionskin papers. They did smell, very moldy and old, but they were in perfect condition.
A dozen poems and songs are being published, along with a CD:
One of the lullabies is “The Noon Balloon.” At the end of her life, Margaret decided that she really wanted to focus on children’s songs and radio and television. It was a new way for her to reach children. “The Noon Balloon” was actually supposed to be a radio show. It would play in the middle of the day for a parent to let a child listen to songs and adventures.
After Margaret died of an embolism at the age of 42, her sister tried to get the manuscripts published for years with no luck. Amy Gary discovered these manuscripts back in 1991.
The author’s sister, Roberta Brown Rauch, tried to sell some of the stories in 1957; when no publishers showed any interest, she kept paper-clipped bundles of the more than 500 typewritten pages in a cedar trunk, where they remained until Amy Gary, publisher of Montevallo, Ala.-based WaterMark Inc., rediscovered them earlier this year.
(Any ideas why it took 23 years for these to be published?)
I however am not particularly interested in reading “Have a Carrot: Oedipal Theory and Symbolism in Margaret Wise Brown’s Runaway Bunny Trilogy” — Oh man that has got to be a dark read.
On a happier note, check out the book on the little bunny’s bedside table:
IMPORTANT ASTRONOMICAL UPDATE:
Several people on Twitter have
harassed informed me that I should have calculated the passage of time according to the movement of the moon through the bunny’s window:
IANAA, but the moon is about half a degree wide as seen from the surface of the earth, and “rises” at 15 degrees per hour, or 2.5 degrees per 10 minute interval (i.e. per color page in the book). That’s 5 moon widths per page, or 35 moon widths for the story. (Do let me know if I got this horrifically wrong.)
Here’s a GIF of the moon through the six pages it is visible:
The moon isn’t visible on every color page, and I didn’t get a time hack on each frame, and I did not bring my copy of Goodnight Moon with me today, but @geofflepper came to the rescue (yay Twitter!)
Breaking it down by time, we sadly see that the moon travels approximately half a moon-width (or a quarter degree) per 10 minute interval, not the expected five moon-widths:
What are Clement and Margaret hiding from us? Also, OMG THE MOON GETS BIGGER.
Maybe the bunny and the old lady are actually in a space elevator, getting closer to the moon as he gets into bed? Or as suggested by @transitmaps, the bunny can bend space and time? I do not have a good answer to this conundrum, but that is what the comments are for.
IMPORTANT ORBITAL UPDATE:
I decided to see how large the moon would have to be if it actually were travelling at the rate we expect, 2.5 degrees (or about five moon widths) per page. (I left the 8PM moon in there for comparison’s sake.)
Well, that’s not a very interesting children’s book. It would have to be renamed “Goodnight Window” I suppose.
But how close would the Moon have to be for it to appear as big as it does in the book? Geometry to the rescue! My math skills are rusty, but thanks to Wikipedia I remember that you can calculate the angular (apparent) diameter of an object if you know its distance and actual diameter,
Let’s say that the moon is 5º, or 0.0872 radians. Solving backwards from
0.0872 = 2 arctan (3,474 km / 2D)
we see that my (probably incorrect) calculations indicate that the Goodnight Moon would be orbiting at about 39,000 km, or 10 times closer to the Earth! For reference, that’s inside the orbit of geosychronous satellites at 42,164 km! (Yes, I should account for the angular diameter from the surface, not the center, but hey.)
Of course, if the Moon were 10x closer, it would be orbiting faster, and OMG the tides would be insane. (Sorry that I don’t have a number but can’t find a tidal calculator, though I believe the tidal power is a cube of the distance, so that can’t be good.)
The bigger question: is Goodnight Moon within the Roche Limit? That’s the point where the Earth would cause such extreme tides on either end of the Moon that it would break apart and Earth would have a ring, which would be cool except for the lunar debris bombarding Earth and even higher tides, both in the ocean and the crust of the Earth itself (and increased earthquakes and volcanic activity) as the Moon drew closer.
The Roche Limit for the Earth-Moon system is 9496 km, or in technical terms, pretty damn close to the Earth. My back of the envelope calculations indicate that the moon would be nearly 21º, or over 40x the moon’s actual angular diameter. Or as the little bunny would see it:
Goodnight life everywhere.
Of course, this all presumes that the little bunny and the mysterious hushing lady and the cats that don’t catch mice are actually on the surface of the Earth, and not in orbit, but I leave that as an exercise for the reader.
IMPORTANT CISLUNAR UPDATE:
I have come to a rather startling conclusion, and it is either really good for the bunny, or really bad. As we previously mentioned, the moon actually gets bigger through the progression of Goodnight Moon. Here we see the relative increase in size from 7:10 to 8:10:
Working from our previous assumption that the Goodnight Moon is 10 times closer than our moon, the magic of arctan tells us that with the increase in its apparent size from 4 to 5 degrees in the space of in an hour, the moon has moved rather closer to the bunny’s room, from 49,000 km to 39,000 km.
Hey, no big deal, the Moon is just moving towards us at 10,000 km per hour, or five-sixth of the Earth’s diameter in an hour, BRB.
So if the Moon is moving towards the Earth, the little bunny has about three hours sleep before the moon is torn apart by the Roche limit, and four hours before another extinction event. But on the other hand, perhaps the bunny is in a spaceship with an awesome window and is moving *towards* the Moon. (10,000 kph is almost the same speed that the Apollo 11 astronauts were travelling at that distance on their way to the Sea of Tranquility.) That’s the story I prefer. And it’s certainly less intense than an alternative take on the bunny’s room that a Metafilter reader pointed out.