“NIGHT IS COMING. EVERYTHING IS GOING TO SLEEP”: RARE MARGARET WISE BROWN FIRST EDITION OF A CHILD’S GOOD NIGHT BOOK, “A HYMN TO SLEEP”
BROWN, Margaret Wise. A Child’s Good Night Book. With color lithographs by Jean Charlot. New York: William R. Scott, 1943. Square 12mo, original paper pictorial boards, original dust jacket. $1650.
First edition of this rare Margaret Wise Brown children’s book, which garnered illustrator Jean Charlot a Caldecott Honor Book Award in 1944.
“Margaret Wise Brown was mindful of ‘the sleep-inducing qualities of words and poetry that could be brought very quietly into a children’s book,’ adding that ‘so many books are read at bedtime… [it is] the first of the true bedtime stories and it is perhaps the purest: sleepy words, sleepy world; a hymn to sleep” (Bader, 269). A Child’s Good Night Book is “among the many books in which, sentence by sentence or stanza by stanza, Brown presented young children with simple, gamelike structures in which to frame their own rhymes, thoughts and perceptions” (Silvey, 96). Maurice Sendak noted of Charlot, who illustrated five of Brown’s books (including the first two editions of A Child’s Good Night Book), “His choice of colors is a breathing into life of the very color of Miss Brown’s words” (Horn Book Magazine, August 1955). “Brown, who talked much about her books, said little about [those] done by Charlot; the credit, she felt, was largely his” (Bader, 270). First edition, preceding the 1950 quarto reissue, which featured new illustrations by Charlot; “there was library buyer resistance to the size [of the first edition]—shelving was fixed and, in the 40s, librarians were inflexible—with the result that A Child’s Good Night Book was redone in 1950 in a standard large vertical format” (Bader, 270). Cotsen 1609. Bookseller ticket to top rear dust jacket flap.
Book fine. Unobtrusive two- and half-inch closed tears to front panel and a closed half-inch tear to rear panel of bright, price-clipped dust jacket. A near-fine copy of a rare edition, scarce in such outstanding condition.