By KAREN KARBO
Published: December 4, 2005
"Goodnight Moon," the children's classic by Margaret Wise Brown, has gone smoke free. In a newly revised edition of the book, which has lulled children to sleep for nearly 60 years, the publisher, HarperCollins, has digitally altered the photograph of Clement Hurd, the illustrator, to remove a cigarette from his hand. HarperCollins said it made the change to avoid the appearance of encouraging smoking.
- The New York Times, Nov. 17
EXCELLENT start, HarperCollins, but why stop there? The text of "Goodnight Moon" itself is laden with messages that are potentially harmful to our youngest readers. At a minimum, these changes should be made:
A. Huge gilt picture frames have no place in the nursery, especially those that are not properly secured. Should these three little bears sitting on chairs crash down during the night, Bunny risks suffering massive head trauma. Suggested change: digitally replace with piece of lightweight non-toxic fiber art.
B. The blue stripes are adorable, but the reader has no way of knowing whether Bunny's pj's meet current flammability standards. Suggested change: digitally alter to include visible "flame resistant" label, in accordance with recommendations made by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Digitally removing pj's is not an option.
C. Tell me this rug is not made of the skin of a Siberian tiger. Suggested change: Digitally remove to avoid appearance of condoning hunting of planet's endangered species.
D. How long has this bowl full of mush been sitting here? A single drop of sour milk contains more than 50 million potentially fatal bacteria. At the very least Bunny is in danger of contracting irritable bowel syndrome. Not to mention mush is low in fiber. Suggested change: Digitally remove.
E. Balloons cause more choking deaths among 3- to 6-year-olds than any other toy. Suggested change: Digitally remove.
F. Given proximity and brightness of stars and moon, it's apparent that Bunny's room is in a high rise. Both windows lack either locks or any type of window guard or restraining device. Suggested change: To avoid the appearance of encouraging children to peer out of unsafe windows, and thus tumble to their deaths, digitally remove windows. Bunny can easily bid goodnight to a moon painted on the wall with nontoxic, lead-free paint.
G. Mice carry hantavirus, hemorrhagic fever, salmonella and Lyme disease. Suggested change: Digitally remove.
H. A fire blazing in the fireplace while Bunny sleeps? Suggested change: Get rid of it. At the very least, digitally add a fire extinguisher to the wall. And hello? Where are the smoke detectors?
I. The United States Fire Administration advises against using "alternative heating devices" like fires to dry clothing. Suggested change: Digitally move mittens and socks to other end of the room.
J. Clearly the bookshelf is unanchored to the wall. If an earthquake hit, Bunny could get squashed flat. Suggested change: Digitally remove. We can't see the titles on the spines of the books anyway, which might convey to children it's all right to pick up any old book and read it.
K. Who exactly is this rabbit? Bunny says, "A quiet old lady whispering hush?" But what do we know of her really? Suggested change: Digitally alter quiet old lady's apron with a message emblazoned across the front that says she was hired from a reputable agency, is a citizen and has passed a criminal background check.
L. Penetrating injuries to the chest by knitting needles are not uncommon. Also, someone could lose an eye. Suggested change: Digitally remove. The quiet old lady is not getting paid to knit, anyway.
Karen Karbo is the author, most recently, of "Minerva Clark Gets a Clue."