I read this book to the children I nanny four times today. I had it when I was a kid, too; I remember being aware even then that it was a classic, but I also knew I didn’t like it very much. Why was the room so big and dark? Why did the little kid have a tiger-skin rug and candlesticks? And what is with that “Goodnight nobody” page? It reminded me of the Addam’s family house. Very unnerving.
But now I love it, and these kids do too. They can stare at some of the larger illustrations for minutes, poring over each section of the great green room. There’s a giraffe on top of the dresser on the far left side, for example. I’d never even seen it, but 2-year-old Adam did.
The words of the story don’t always stay in rhythm–sometimes a single-sound rhyme extends longer than the reader expects it to, and the first two pages don’t even come close to the iambic pattern of the rest of the book. Now that’s a little exciting for me, since I spend so much time reading aloud “stories” that bounce right along and require no attention (looking at you, counting books).
I do have to say, though– that green wallpaper and orange carpet are still the stuff of nightmares. Why, illustrator Clement Hurd? Were you having visions of the 70’s?