A dozen of the Goodnight Moon author's poems were discovered in an old trunk, and will be released in the US
Margaret Wise Brown has lulled generations of children off to sleep with her classic bedtime story, Goodnight Moon. Now a previously unpublished collection of lullaby poems by the much-loved author has been discovered in an old trunk, and is set for release in March.
Brown, who died in 1952, is the author of more than a hundred children's books, but is best remembered for Goodnight Moon ("In the great green room/ there was a telephone/ And a red balloon"), and The Runaway Bunny, both illustrated by Clement Hurd. Sterling Books in the US is now preparing to release Goodnight Songs, a collection of 12 children's lullabies by Brown, which were found in a trunk in her sister's barn, and have now been illustrated by 12 different artists.
"Baby sail the seven seas/ Safely in my arms/ When the waves go up and down/ You are safe from harm," writes Brown in one of the songs. And: "When I close my eyes at night/ In the darkness I see light/ Blue clouds in a big white sky."
Kirkus Reviews called the forthcoming book a "treasure trove", revealing that it was written in the last year of Brown's life, "when she was travelling in France for a book tour and under contract to create songs for a new children's record company".
"Brown's intent was to capture the spirit of a child's world in her songs as she had done with her stories … the simple rhymes have Brown's trademark charm," said the book review magazine. "Children will enjoy the whimsical scenes, and adult mavens of children's literature will appreciate and delight in the background of the discovery."
"We worked from what were really quite rough drafts, some of which were scribbled on the back of napkins or were fragments written on trains during Margaret's travels," Sterling executive editor Meredith Mundy told US books magazine Publishers Weekly. "It was so interesting to see how she used internal rhyme, and her rhythm is very beautiful and song-like … It was very important to us to be respectful of her writing tradition and her text."
Carin Berger, who illustrated one of the songs for the new book, told Publishers Weekly that she "adored" Goodnight Moon when she was little, and was also "entranced with Clement Hurd's illustrations of the room itself".
"The images perfectly mirrored the words and had such presence – an evocative combination of warmth, quiet and mystery. It was a thrill and honor to be asked to contribute an illustration to Goodnight Songs. I wanted the art to harken back to the room in Goodnight Moon, but instead of peeking in, this time I wanted to imagine peering out. I wanted to show rooms in all of the other houses in which goodnight stories were being read," she said.
• Goodnight Songs will be published by Sterling Children's Books in March.