GOODNIGHT MOON study guide 2009

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					                       GOODNIGHT MOON
           Adapted from the book by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
                        Book, music, and lyrics by Chad Henry
                       A California Theatre Center Study Guide

Evening settles over the Great Green Room, and a young Bunny prepares to go to
bed. But this is no ordinary bedtime! As the Bunny goes through the ritual of
storytime, the Room comes alive as the Bunny bids goodnight to the things and
creatures in it, such as the Mouse, the Red Balloon, and the Cuckoo Clock, as well as
the great shining Moon that watches over it all. The magic continues as the characters
from the Bunny’s favorite nursery rhymes and fairy tales spring to life and perform
their stories! Clarabelle the Cow attempts the death-defying feat of jumping over the
moon in a hilarious Vaudeville-style entertainment, hosted by the Cat and the Fiddle!
The Bears in Chairs, confined to a lovely painting by day, emerge life-size by night
and groove up the Great Green Room with a swingin’ jazz number! Even the Tooth
Fairy makes a very memorable appearance, and he’s not what you’d expect! Through
lively music, stirring dance, and the vivid colors of the Room and everything in it, the
Bunny is at last lulled into a blissful sleep in the Great Green Room by the light of the
benevolent, shining Moon.
                                    GENERAL DISCUSSION

Why do we have bedtime stories? What is it about reading a story, or having one told to you, before
going to bed that is so enjoyable and healthful?

What do you to get ready for bed? What are some healthy things to do before going to bed? What
are some unhealthy things that you should avoid before bed if you want to get a good night’s sleep?
How does the Bunny finally become tired enough to fall asleep?

Research dreaming as a class. Why do we dream when we sleep? Are dreams significant in any
way—in other words, do they have meaning that could be applied to our daily lives? How do pre-
bedtime activities affect your sleep and dreams? What other animals have dreams?

How does Clarabelle the cow finally figure out how to jump over the moon? What can you learn
from Clarabelle about having a positive attitude and thinking creatively to solve problems?

Think about the bright colors used in the play’s scenery, as well as the moods created by the lighting.
What emotions did you feel while viewing these elements—such as happy, fun, excited, or nervous?


Read the book Goodnight Moon as a class. Pay particular attention to the brightly colored illustrations,
comparing the details you see there to those that were included in the production. How does the
innovative stagecraft used in the play enhance the story?

The text of the book Goodnight Moon is also a poem. How are poetry and drama related? William
Shakespeare is an example of a playwright who was also a poet—he incorporated poetry into his
plays, and wrote several types of poems separately from his plays, including his famous sonnets.
What is a sonnet? Research and discuss various forms of poetry as a class. Write your own poetry
inspired by Goodnight Moon, another work of literature, or a historical event.

Margaret Wise Brown also wrote the well-known book The Runaway Bunny, which appears in the play
Goodnight Moon both in the form of visual art and a musical sequence. Read The Runaway Bunny as a
class. What similarities does it share with Goodnight Moon? Compare its illustrations to those of
Goodnight Moon as well. How do each book’s illustrations represent the themes of each story?

Read the original Mother Goose nursery rhymes that appear in the play, such as “Hey Diddle
Diddle” as well as the folktale “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” How did these stories originate?
Research nursery rhymes and lullabies as a class. Many of the ones we are most familiar with in the
United States, such as the Mother Goose collection, originated in Great Britain. What are some
nursery rhyme/lullaby traditions from other world cultures?

                                      PERFORMING ARTS

This production of Goodnight Moon uses creative stagecraft techniques to achieve effects such as the
Bears in Chairs leaving their painting, the cow jumping over the moon, and the Mouse sneaking
about the room. What is your opinion of these techniques? Were they entertaining to watch? Did
they succeed in achieving the desired effects?
During the “Hey Diddle Diddle” sequences, the dog plays a snare drum and the cat plays a fiddle,
another name for a violin. As a class, research these and other similar musical instruments, such as
the viola, cello, bass drum, and timpani. How did these instruments originate, and how have they
been used in different cultures around the world? How are they made? What materials are used to
construct them?

Research the different musical styles featured in Goodnight Moon, such as jazz, big band & swing, and
Vaudeville. How did these styles originate? How did they inspire the musical styles of today?

When a writer takes a book, such as Goodnight Moon, and turns it into a play, it is called “adaptation.”
What other well-known books have been adapted for the stage? Why do we adapt books and written
stories into plays and musicals for the stage?
    a. As a class, adapt stories into short skits. Divide the class into groups and have each group
         work together to adapt a short script from a well-known folktale or fairy tale. Perform the
         scripts for the class!


Research the moon as a class. What are its phases and its relationship to earth? What is the moon
made of? What are its physical and atmospheric properties?
   a. Why does the moon “shine”? What are we actually seeing when we see moonlight?
   b. Draw or paint a distinct, creative representation of the moon. Use watercolors, finger paints,
       colored pencils or markers, anything. Be creative with artistic elements, including color and
       texture, light and shadow. Include whatever else you want to in your work—spacecraft,
       creatures, or other celestial objects such as stars, comets, and planets.

Most of the characters in Goodnight Moon are animals. Research the following animals: rabbits, mice,
dogs, cats, cows, and bears. What are these animals’ sleeping habits?

Early in the play, the Red Balloon drifts past the Bunny’s window. In order to stay up in the air
when tied to strings, balloons are filled with a gas called helium. What are the properties of helium?
What is it about helium that makes balloons “float”?

Throughout the play, the Bunny struggles with a loose tooth. Why do we gradually lose our teeth
while we are young? What other animals experience normal tooth loss and regrowth?

                                         WRITE TO CTC!

After seeing the play, write about it. Tell what you liked or disliked about the story, characters,
costumes, music, etc. Remember to support your thoughts with examples and reasons. Send your
letters to California Theatre Center, P.O. Box 2007, Sunnyvale, CA 94087. (Teachers'
comments are appreciated!)