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!*
In 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 June will 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?