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Publisher Releases Lullabies From 'Goodnight Moon' Author



Goodnight stars. Good night air. Good night noises, everywhere.

A woman named Margaret Wise Brown wrote those words. And you probably recognize them. You've probably read them out loud many times. It's from her book "Goodnight Moon." Margaret Wise Brown died in 1952. But much of what she wrote was never published, including her songs and poems.


EMILY GARY: (Singing) Baby sail the seven seas safely in my arms. When the waves go up and down, you are safe from harm.

WERTHEIMER: Twelve of her poems and songs are part of a new collection of lullabies published this week - most of them for the first time. They were edited and discovered by Amy Gary. The book is called "Goodnight Songs," it's beautifully illustrated, and comes with a CD of the lyrics set to music.

Amy Gary joins us now. Welcome to the program.

AMY GARY: Thank you for having me.

WERTHEIMER: Could you tell us the story of discovering these unpublished manuscripts?

A. GARY: I was a young publisher and was looking for things that I could reprint of Margaret's. And I was looking through all of these old books at her sister's home. And her sister said oh yes, there's this wonderful manuscript she was working on, but I've got it in the trunk and her barn. She was living in Vermont at the time. I thought, oh my goodness...


A. GARY: ...I wonder if any of these papers are actually still left.

WERTHEIMER: Eaten by mice.

A. GARY: Yes. That was my first thought. So she opened it up one day for me and literally, the trunk is filled, end to end, with onionskin papers. They did smell, very moldy and old, but they were in perfect condition.

WERTHEIMER: Now Margaret Wise Brown is, of course, best known for "Goodnight Moon" and "The Runaway Bunny." What about the songs?

A. GARY: One of the lullabies is "The Noon Balloon." At the end of her life, Margaret decided that she really wanted to focus on children's songs and radio and television. It was a new way for her to reach children. "The Noon Balloon" was actually supposed to be a radio show. It would play in the middle of the day for a parent to let a child listen to songs and adventures.


E. GARY: (Singing) The noon balloon will be leaving soon for the sun or the moon. And wherever it goes, it will get there too soon. Aboard was a bear and crazy baboon in the noon balloon, and a monkey, troll, and a tiny little mole on a trip to the moon...

WERTHEIMER: You have 12 poems, 12 songs and each column has his own artwork, different artists produced these two-page paintings. I guess anybody who gets a chance, all these years later, to illustrate a Margaret Wise Brown book would jump.

A. GARY: They did.


A. GARY: And rightly so. And one of the illustrators set this so beautifully. He said, you know, her writing evokes more images than anyone else's writing can do. She was able to write in a way that really spoke to children and that's why the things she's written have remained in print for so many years.

WERTHEIMER: Amy Gary, she is the editor of "Goodnight Songs," a collection of lullabies by Margaret Wise Brown. Amy Gary, thank you so much.

A. GARY: Thank you very much.


EMILY GARY, TOM PROUTT: (Singing) They come softly at first, as cars go by. As boats whistle, far away, as dogs bark far away in the night...

WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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