Exhibit based on beloved children’s book opens

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – Countless children have been lulled to sleep by the dreamlike pictures and soothing words of “Goodnight Moon,” a bedtime story about a little bunny who says goodnight to just about everything he knows.

Fans of the book can now see the colorful illustrations from “Goodnight Moon” brought to life in an exhibit at the museum of the Rhode Island School of Design.

On Friday, the museum kicked off the 12-week exhibit featuring the artwork of Clement Hurd, the illustrator whose work in “Goodnight Moon” and more than 100 children’s books has fascinated generations of young minds.

Since “Goodnight Moon” was first published in 1947, it has sold more than 11 million copies. Hurd’s other books include “The Runaway Bunny,” “The World is Round,” and the Johnny Lion series.

“Lots of children grew up reading these books in America,” said Museum Director Hope Alswang.

The exhibit also features work by Hurd’s wife, Edith, and his son, Thacher, and displays 70 original illustrations by the Hurds altogether. Providence is its final stop after touring the country, including places in Vermont, Michigan, Florida and South Carolina.

Included in the show are three-dimensional life-size displays that recreate scenes and objects from the books – like the “great green room,” of “Goodnight Moon,” the recurrent scene where the bunny says his goodnight to the moon, the stars, the air, a mouse and little toy house.

Ronni Michaelson, of Wellesley, Mass., gasped when she saw the 17-foot long diorama at the entrance of the exhibit. Michaelson, 57, read “Goodnight Moon” to her daughter, Jane Murphy, every night when she was a little girl.

It was one of the first books Murphy read, Michaelson said, as she looked at her now-grown daughter standing beside the exhibit.

“She loved it, loved it, loved it,” Michaelson said. “It’s a very soothing book.”

Murphy, now 26, reads the same story to her 13-month-old daughter, Lea, every night.

“We say goodnight to everything in the book,” Murphy said.

The show is aimed at families, and the museum has organized reading sessions and other programs for children through July 23.

To draw in the children, some of the exhibits are interactive, like the 16-foot-long “brushmobile,” based on the vehicle shaped like a paintbrush in “Art Dog,” by Thacher Hurd.

In the RISD exhibit, children can climb into a life-sized version of the car, a big thrill for 31/2-year-old Nick Joss, who climbed in and out of the red brushmobile and pretended to paint it with a brush.

“He could be in there all day,” said Nick’s father, Steve Joss, a teacher from Charlestown, who said he reads “Goodnight Moon” to Nick at least once a month, and the little boy has memorized most of the words.

Thacher Hurd, who attended Friday’s opening, said he enjoys observing the reaction of the children when they see the exhibit, especially the well-known room of “Goodnight Moon.”

“They’re just sort of thunderstruck that the room they’ve been looking at is suddenly real,” Hurd said. “But they’re two years old, and to them, the room is real anyway.”



On the Net

Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design: http://www.risd.edu/museum.cfm

AP-ES-04-21-06 1911EDT

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