Goodnight Bush! A Brilliant Parody

One of the best-known and best-loved children’s books ever published is Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon, which has been translated and parodied countless times but remains forever beloved by children, parents, and grandparents.  Non-parents and ultra-cool teenagers might be the few holdouts, but their time has come with the newest, unauthorized parody:

Written by Erich Origen and Gan Golan, and clearly not for (or about) innocents, Goodnight Bush vivisects the current Administration with merciless accuracy, using every possible razor edge that has caused this country to bleed since the stolen election of 2000.

Fans of the original will be particularly enchanted by the complete loyalty shown to the Brown’s text and Hurd’s illustrations — the gentle rhyme scheme, the simple lines — all reimagined with a Gestalt effect.  Where sweet love and innocence were the essence of Brown’s book, Origen and Golan replace every sweet detail with malice and guilt.  Cheney whispers “Hush” to a worshipful FOX, the fire in the hearth is fueled by election ballots, and bin Ladin is easily found on every page.  The details are exquisite, such as the titles on books that line the shelves, like Rapture the Flag.

You can order your copy wherever cool books are sold, like Amazon.  Or Powell’s.  Or Barnes & Noble.
ISBN: 978-0316040419
Published by Little, Brown & Company.

I’ve got two on order already.

The website is also offering a Couplet Contest, asking for headline-related entries in poetic form, as a sort of farewell celebration, between Independence (from Bush) Day, 2008, to January 19, 2009.  Enter as often as you like, and perhaps you’ll win a free, autographed book!


Book Review: The Sea Monster by Chris Wormell

It’s always interesting to see what sort of children’s story awaits beneath a “monster” title.

When my firstborn was just discovering books, he had a penchant for monsters, and I’m pretty certain we looked at every book published for children with a monster theme or image. Favorites included Mercer Mayer’s There’s a Nightmare in My Closet, Doug Cushman’s Not Counting Monsters, and even The Berenstain Bears and the Green-Eyed Monster just to see Papa Bear turn green.  When I spotted Chris Wormell’s The Sea Monster, I had to peek inside and see what was new in monsters for children.

Chris Wormell brings his readers on a magical visit to the ocean shore, in the company of a little boy, his faithful dog, an old man, and a mysterious sea creature who is a little bit of all these things. While there is acknowledged danger — the boy is adrift on the ocean, far from shore —  it is never a frightening or threatening situation that would make a young reader uncomfortable with the story. By the time the danger is realized, the rescue is already underway.  Wormell is never saccharine or heavy-handed in telling the story; he trusts his illustrations to explain what he leaves unsaid.

The result is a magical story, told quietly, so that we might hear the lapping of gentle waves, the cries of seagulls, and the distant barking of a little boy’s dog.  Richly colored illustrations provide a sense of immensity: the vastness of the sea, the sheer height of the cliffs, and the mystery of love, in the form of an ancient monster.

The Sea Monster
Chris Wormell
Published 2005 by Jonathan Cape
ISBN: 0224070258

Book Review: Marcia Williams’s retelling of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

More than six hundred years ago, Geoffrey Chaucer commenced the writing of his Canterbury Tales.  The work was never finished: of the 30 pilgrims, each was to tell two tales, to help pass the time on the journey to Canterbury and back, but today we have only the unfinished fragments in countless interpretations and translations.

Marcia Williams took on the awesome challenge of retelling Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales for a new generation of younger readers.  Referring (with credit given on the copyright page) to Dr. Lesley A. Coote’s student-friendly edition as the basis for Williams’ own text, the stories are told in modern English with snippets of the original text provided in the illustrations, in word bubbles from the characters, where their context makes them less alien and more charming.

A particularly endearing feature of Williams’ book is the running commentary of characters in the margin illustrations.  Little birds discuss the actions of characters in the Knight’s tale, while squirrels and owls listen in on the Miller’s tale, and goofy fairies flit alongside the Wife of Bath’s story.  These margin dialogues provide a modern day connection and discussion points for adults who share this book with children, or for older children to discuss the stories together.

The medieval font chosen for the copyright page information particularly charmed me.  It’s always a delight when publishers remember that a few of us have to read that page, too.

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
retold by Marcia Williams.
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, c2007.
ISBN 9780763631970.