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Book News: 'Goodnight Moon' Author's Lullabies See The Light After 60 Years

If the latest compilation of works by Margaret Wise Brown, best known for the beloved children's book <em>Goodnight Moon</em>, puts you to sleep, that's a good thing.
Kathy Willens
If the latest compilation of works by Margaret Wise Brown, best known for the beloved children's book Goodnight Moon, puts you to sleep, that's a good thing.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • A collection of lullaby poems from Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon who died in 1952, is being published on Tuesday by Sterling Children's Books. The works were discovered in a trunk in her sister's farmhouse in Vermont. One lullaby, titled "Sleep like a rabbit," begins: "Sleep like a rabbit, sleep like a bear / sleep like the old cat under the chair." Kirkus says the lullabies "were written in 1952, the last year of her life, when she was traveling in France for a book tour and under contract to create songs for a new children's record company." The compilation is titled Goodnight Songs.
  • Bill Adler, creator of scores of books such as Outwitting Toddlers and What Is a Cat? For Everyone Who Has Ever Loved a Cat and What to Name Your Jewish Baby, died Friday at age 84. One book, Who Killed the Robins Family?: And Where and When and How and Why Did They Die?, promised a $10,000 reward for solving the (fake) murders. In 1983, People magazine wrote, "For a quarter of a century now, Bill Adler has been a publishing phenom, packaging, agenting and mainly pushing books for movie stars, TV personalities, politicians and just plain folk whose success in life — whether meager or mega — does not rest on the coruscating quality of their prose."
  • Ansel Elkins has won the Yale Younger Poets Prize for her forthcoming collection Blue Yodel, which is set to be published next year by Yale University Press. The prize, founded in 1919, has been awarded to poets including Adrienne Rich and John Ashbery. The poet Carl Phillips, who judged the competition, wrote in a press release, "Razor-edged in their intelligence, southern gothic in their sensibility, these poems enter the strangenesses of others and return us to a world at once charged, changed, brutal, and luminous." You can read Elkins' poem "Reverse: A Lynching" at The Boston Review. It begins:
  • "Return the tree, the moon, the naked man

    Hanging from the indifferent branch

    Return blood to his brain, breath to his heart

    Reunite the neck with the bridge of his body

    Untie the knot, undo the noose

    Return the kicking feet to ground..."

  • In The New York Review of Books, Edward Mendelson argues that the supposedly bristly poet W.H. Auden had a "secret life" made up of quiet acts of kindness, and that he worked to portray himself "as rigid or uncaring when he was making unobtrusive gifts of time, money, and sympathy."
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    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.
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