Who doesn’t love Goodnight Moon? The soothing words, the simple reassurance of saying goodnight to objects, the perfect length book – not too short, not epic like Cars & Trucks & Things that Go. My grandmother read it to my father, my mother read it to me, I read it to my kids. My husband read it when our first child was born. I watched him, eyes about to tear up.
“This sucks,” he said. “Try it again,” I insisted. And whether I wore him down or he finally found the charm, it didn’t matter because he understood the greatness of that book. Now, much has been written about Margaret Wise Brown, the author. She might have been a bit of an odd duck. Which doesn’t matter, and yet I can’t help but (over)-interpret another of her books, The Runaway Bunny.
This book is a primer for stalkers everywhere. It talks of a love so extreme, the narrator will stop at nothing to get to this bunny. In the beginning, it appears to be about a bunny who wants to “run away.” Like all kids, the bunny needs some independence. So of course the stalker-bunny-parent says she’ll come after the bunny – because she’s worried? No. Because bunnies shouldn’t be out alone? No. Because YOU ARE MINE. And then it just gets worse. The bunny’s desperate to get away – I’ll become a mountain. Well, suck it up bunny, because I’m gonna be a mountain climber on that mountain. I’ll be a tree. Oh yeah? Well, how ’bout I take over the orchard. Even when the bunny takes on human form – shapeshifting bunnies! – the stalker will be there, shifting into human mom form. If the poor, independence-seeking rabbit becomes a boat, why the overbearing parent is going to turn into the wind, “to blow you where I want you to go.” So much for spreading those wings, bunny boy.
The pictures are sweet. The words flow. And yet, this is one creepy book. It’s right up there with this song (which should pay rent to Ms Wise Brown for stealing her sweet-stalker idea) and this song and a whole host of other books and movies too disturbing to dissect here.
The point is, Goodnight Stalker. Good night obsessive love. Goodnight fingerprints erased by a glove.
No. The real point is that once you’ve read kid books eighty-nine times you begin to cross-examine them. Up next, Frog & Toad: a Close Reading of Homoerotic Friendship.
That, and warm maple cream, which, like any good stalker, sticks to toast and waffles alike. You’ll never get away from it once you try it.*
*Shown above with chocolate-ginger scone.