Having been immersed in children’s books of all kinds my entire life, I tend to take for granted that people read them as children themselves, or at least to their own children. Even really smart people who read widely haven’t necessarily read the children’s books that most lovers of children’s literature would consider core titles. Unfortunately, that means a lot of people miss out. You might not think it, but there are a lot of cultural references dependent on knowledge of a common literary history, beginning in childhood. And horror is a very intertextual genre, with cultural references aplenty.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is one of those books I always thought everyone at least knew about, even if they hadn’t read it. There have been many parodies, It wasn’t that long ago that Michael Rex produced an homage to this classic titled Goodnight Goon, with lots of monsters, creatures, and chaos. Of course you don’t have to have read the original to enjoy it, but you’ll enjoy it more if you understand what is being parodied (your kids probably won’t care, but you’ll enjoy it more). For your enjoyment, then, here is a video that showcases the book.
Sometimes, though, you DO have to be familiar with the original to have the referential title make sense– and to “get it” so you can say “wow, that’s cool”! And it doesn’t work if you don’t know the context. In my travels across the Internet, I came across this short video, and it kind of wowed me with the way it took the familiar elements of the book and made them into a horror movie.
I ran to get my husband and showed it to him and he kind of shrugged. I didn’t realize he was unfamiliar with Goodnight Moon. Not knowing the book took the meaning away for him–it was nicely done, but so what?
It doesn’t matter what you read or watch… Life is richer, and in often unexpected ways, when you read children’s books.