So go the words of a new Minnesota children’s book, “Goodnight Loon,” that is one part satire, one part Minnesota whimsy, and yet still endearing for the ears of kids who still grow up hearing the 1947 classic “Goodnight Moon,” by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd.
I have to begin with a story of my own.
This month we decided to donate a bunch of the boys’ childhood books to Project Read in Itasca County so that other kids could have a chance to read them. Our boys are reading chapter books now and never look at the old classics we once read every day.
Admittedly, I was a little emotional seeing all the board books I read to the boys when they were babies and toddlers stacked up in paper bags. These books were read aloud, first by my wife and I, then by the boys, hundreds of times. Maybe 1,000. Maybe more.
One of the books, “Goodnight Moon,” is the one many of you know. People have been reading it as a bedtime story for three generations. And it’s one of the books I had to page through just one last time. Well, less than a week after donating the books, I received an e-mail from one of my favorite Midwestern writers, Abe Sauer. He and a team of creative people have released a delightful Minnesota-based tribute to that book entitled “Goodnight Loon.”
“Goodnight Loon” follows the same pacing and imagery as the classic Brown/Hurd original, but all of the references are replaced with some iconic aspect of life in these north woods. The old lady whispering “Shhhh” has been swapped out for a tired voyageur whispering “Shhh.” There’s a hungry raccoon in the house (which actually a house boat) and references to walleye and tater tot hotdish abound.
As in the original, words are sparing and clear. The pictures, however, abound with detail as the raccoon looks for food and the tired voyageur finally lulls the small beaver woodland critter to slumber in its sleeping bag.
Sauer and illustrator/photographer brother Nathanial Davauer are raising funds to release “Goodnight Loon” independently in book stores by selling $10 advance copies of the book and offering other clever, appealing and downright generous rewards at www.goodnightloon.com. Twenty-five percent of profits from sales of the book are going to Audobon Center of the North Woods. For a little more money, you can get a book and have an additional book delivered to a kid in a Minnesota children’s hospital.
You can pay to have a copy of “Goodnight Loon” inscribed to a Minnesota mayor of your choice with a message to fix the potholes in that city. Investing more can get your a Duluth Pack bag or even an inscribed book from Minnesota author and radio personality Garrison Keillor. The special promotion ends tomorrow (Dec. 2). After that, they hope to have “Goodnight Loon” in bookstores.
Sauer told me “Goodnight Loon” was a fun special project that he and Davauer wanted to try in order to do something good for Minnesota, Wisconsin, kids and the great outdoors. The pair both have kids now, and a new appreciation of their roots growing up on a dairy farm. Sauer settled in Minneapolis and his brother in Milwaukee.
“Goodnight Moon” is a book that brings comfort and wonder to children as they go to bed. “Goodnight Loon” does some of the same, and perhaps also comforts the Minnesota parents who chose to raise them here.
“Goodnight northwoods everywhere.”
Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog MinnesotaBrown.com and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. The next show will broadcast live from the Fosston Library Arts Center on Saturday, Dec. 14. This post first appeared in the Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.