Goodnight June by Sarah Jio

June 2, 2014 Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction 14

Goodnight Bookworms,

I don’t have kids, but I love children’s books. Remember that whole Bookish Baby Shower my book club put together for one of our members? It was an incredible stroke of luck that “C” didn’t receive a single double copy of a book for her baby girl’s library, especially since I’ve known people to get two or three copies of Goodnight Moon in a single (non bookish) baby shower. “C” got a copy, but just the one :). But that’s the way of Goodnight Moon. It’s iconic and everyone remembers it fondly. That is part of the reason I was so intrigued when I was offered a review copy of Sarah Jio’s new novel, Goodnight June. Goodnight June imagines an origin story for Margaret Wise Brown’s quintessential nursery tale. It didn’t hurt that I enjoyed one of Sarah Jio’s other books, or that my friend just had a baby girl named June. (I’ve never met a June I didn’t like. True story. I can think of three off the top of my head and each one is a treasure, I tell you!) *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I promise in the name of the Junes that I’ll tell it like it is!*

goodnightjuneIn typical Sarah Jio style, Goodnight June is told in a dual narrative. More specifically, it’s told in the present (well, 2005) but employs letters written between the fictional Ruby and her good friend Margaret Wise Brown in the 1940s. Our protagonist is named June. She inherits her beloved aunt’s children’s bookstore in Seattle after she passes away. A high powered banking executive based in New York, June is accustomed to shutting down struggling businesses, not attempting to save them. June begins a journey of self discovery as she explores the history of the store, her aunt’s legacy, and the influence the bookstore had on one of the most famous children’s books of all time.

There’s a bit in Goodnight June where Margaret Wise Brown is concerned that her work as a (ridiculously successful) children’s author gets little respect from her peers. She considers writing an adult novel in order to gain some credibility. Her friend and confidant Ruby tells her that her work as a children’s author may not be as celebrated as writing novels for adult, it is no less important. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I enjoyed this book for what it was. I don’t go into a Sarah Jio novel expecting intense literary prose or to be bamboozled by plot twists. It may not have been the most artfully executed book, and it was, perhaps, a bit melodramatic. In the end, though, it was a very sweet story, and that’s all I really expected and wanted. Goodnight Junwill make you want to hug the story time reader at your local bookstore or library, I can promise you that.

Nostalgia time, Bookworms! What is your favorite children’s book?

14 Responses to “Goodnight June by Sarah Jio”

  1. Megan M.

    This sounds like a sweet story. I know a June, too, and she IS a treasure!

    My favorite books when I was little were the Berenstain Bears books. I totally wanted to live in their tree house. I had a ton of them and I read them all the time – and I read them to anyone who would listen. Now I get to read them to my girls.

  2. AMB (Koiviolet)

    Oh my goodness, I have so many favorite children’s books! There are the ones from my own childhood, like the now outdated Berenstain Bears’ “The Day of the Dinosaur,”* and then there are new ones I’ve gotten to experience for the first time with my children, like David Weisner’s “Art & Max.”

    *I hope you don’t mind the link, but this is my post on Day of the Dinosaur; it’s full of embarrassing pictures:

    • Words For Worms

      I have no problem with linking posts in the comments when they are relevant and/or contain childhood pictures in dinosaur costumes. Holy cuteness!

  3. Sarah @ Sarah's Book Shelves

    I’ve never read Sarah Jio before, but read Goodnight Moon to my kids all the time, so am looking forward to reading this! I’m thankful that you have set my expectations appropriately going in.

    • Words For Worms

      I hope it didn’t come across that I didn’t like the book, it’s just that it’s not exactly the type of book that’s going to take home a Pulitzer. If you haven’t read a Sarah Jio, give it a shot. I find her books to be pleasant, if not overly mentally taxing. Sometimes that’s just what I want!

  4. Darlene @ Lostinliterature108

    I have two hardcover copies of Goodnight Moon that belong to each of my boys. They were inscribed by their great grandmother who is no longer with us. They are a treasure.

    And I learned early in their homeschooling, there is a lot to the “art” in the book for little ones. Like, when the room is light, the window is dark, and when the room is dark the window is light by the light of the moon and stars.
    Also, did you know that one of the pictures on the wall is one of the pictures in The Runaway Bunny by MW Brown?

    My favorite children’s picture book would be The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and The Big Hungry Bear. Also The Giving Tree.
    My favorite children’s chapter book will always be Charlotte’s Web.

    • Words For Worms

      My favorite children’s chapter book is (no surprise here) Mr. Popper’s Penguins. I’ve got quite a few penguin themed kids’ books that I’ve received as gifts over the years. My hypothetical children already have a library!

  5. Trish

    This sounds perfectly sweet–especially for my current frame of mind (there were months when all I read was freaking Goodnight Moon…it gets more interesting when we can find the little mouse together). Favorites? I’m partial to Nancy Tillman’s books and tend to give those as gifts. We have two copies of Goodnight Moon but I wish I had a third…the board book version. LOL!

    • Words For Worms

      Oh goodness, YES! Board books are where it’s at for tiny little drooly hands! When I shop for baby showers and birthdays for little ones, I try to get board books if possible. Things I learned from being Crazy Aunt Katie: durability is important! “C”s version of Goodnight Moon was the board book. Lots of mamas in book club!

  6. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    Great review! I like your point about just enjoying a book for what it is. My star ratings, for example, are really only comparable between books within the same genres.

    • Words For Worms

      YES! Star ratings make me nuts on Goodreads because I feel mine are so completely arbitrary. That part of the book really hit home for me. It’s not fair to compare every single thing to a Pulitzer Prize winner, you know? Every book serves a purpose and an audience. (Except maybe the dinosaur porn, unless the purpose was to make me laugh uncontrollably at the concept.)

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