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She was originally convicted of second-degree murder in March and was sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for at least 10 years. The conviction was quashed and a new trial ordered last December, when it was revealed Superior Court Justice Mary Lou Benotto erred in her instructions to the jury. Peng gave birth to her daughter, Scarlett, in and went into depression. Unable to care for her daughter, Peng and her then-husband sent Scarlett to live with her maternal grandmother in China.

A pediatric pathologist later declared Scarlett could have lost consciousness in as little as 30 seconds. I still love my daughter. I hate autism.

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We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. Visit our community guidelines for more information. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and spoke to me by phone. Celeste Ng: For the first three years of his life, my son insisted on hearing Goodnight Moon before bedtime. Like most babies, he was not a good sleeper by disposition—but reading seemed to help, and this book specifically became part of his whole wind-down ritual.

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By now, I have read Goodnight Moon literally over a thousand times. As I read it again and again, I started to wonder: Why is this the book everybody feels a child must have? There is no real story. The story is: The rabbit goes to bed.

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The text is just a list of items, and the artwork has no action in it. And yet, it really does capture something for us.


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Something more powerful than just pure nostalgia could explain. If you imagine this book without the words that accompany the pictures, it would be a mystifying work—even a little bit terrifying. And the more you look at the pictures, the stranger they get. There are other allusions to different books by Margaret Wise Brown, too. The picture of a rabbit fishing with a carrot for a baby rabbit comes out of another of her books, The Runaway Bunny —which is itself on the bookshelf pictured here. Oddly, the little rabbit has a larger version of the same cow picture in his room.

So many of the details have this subtle, almost unnerving strangeness.

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This is a baby rabbit, so why is there a black office telephone beside his bed? Why is a red balloon floating around? As my son got older, he wanted to try and explain how the items in the room had gotten there. We instinctively resist the idea that these are just random objects, a bunch of stuff just lying around a room. When I was teaching, many of my students were beginning writers who were nervous about starting a story. I think Goodnight Moon works in a similar way: It presents you with a range of ambiguous details, asking you to make connections and supply cause and effect.

Instead, it reveals objects around the room in grouped little sequences—close-ups of the brush, the bowl of mush—before returning us to the larger room again, zooming back out so we can see each item in context.

It keeps insisting on that whole, in a way, asking us to integrate the snapshots into some kind of narrative. In this way, the book teaches you that you have to look twice.

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From there, you start to notice other changes that occur as the story unfolds—the hands are moving on the clock, the moon changes positions in the sky. That motion is part of what makes the illustrations so affecting.

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But, inevitably, certain images will stand out—you start to decide which ones are important as you go. So I asked myself: Can I use those eggs again somewhere else? I started to think about the way eggs are fragile, but are also very nutritious, all these sorts of things. The appearance of eggs led to a larger thematic exploration, not the other way around.