Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Goodnight iPad

Written & illustrated by Ann Droyd
$14.95, All ages, 30 pages

It seems like only yesterday that Margaret Wise Brown's bunny fell asleep saying nighty night to the moon.

Now all sorts of things are glowing in his house -- iPads, WiFi, Nooks -- and the last thing Bunny wants to do is tell them goodnight.

In fact, no one in his family wants to wish their devices goodnight -- well, except Granny. She hasn't warmed up to electronics (at least not that she realizes).

It looks like Granny will just have say all of their goodnights for them -- and give those glowy things the sendoff she thinks they deserve.

In this hysterical parody of Brown's Goodnight Moon, David Milgram (aka "Ann Droyd") shows an old-fashioned gal getting her digital family to bed by hurling all of its distractions out the window.

The result is a bedtime gem for the digital age that underscores how hard it is to tear kids and parents away from gadgets -- made all the more funny juxtaposed with Brown's sweet 1947 poem.

Coming out just weeks after the passing of Apple Founder Steve Jobs, Goodnight iPad feels like a tribute and reminds us how much the iPad and all the devices Jobs created changed how we live -- and go to bed.

In Brown's classic, the bunny wishes goodnight to everything around his room. Then as the sky slowly deepens and he says goodnight to the moon, his eyes slip shut and he drifts off to sleep.

But in Milgram's spoof, the bunny and most of his family are too fixated on their electronic devices to realize it's bedtime.

The sky is already dark. The kids are in pajamas and everyone's clicking away in the family room.

It isn't until Granny is startled awake by a din of beeps, dings and "you've got mails" that any move is made to get to bed.

In a rocker by the room's hearth, Granny wipes the sleep away, gets her bearings and looks around, amazed:

The whole room is plugged in. There are cords snaking this way and that, power sockets that are maxed out and speakers towering beside screens, and the entire family is on the floor transfixed.

All four kids, and even Mom and Dad are tapping away at controllers and tuning out on MP3s, completely lost to the world and each other (unless they're matched in a video game).

In some cases, the electronics have taken the place of things they used to do.

Dad reads his electronic book device as the trash can beside him overflows with hardback books and reading lights, and the baby shakes an iPod that has a rattle App on the screen.

"In the bright buzzing room,
There was an iPad,
And a kid playing Doom,
And a screensaver of -- 
A bird launching over the moon.
There were three little Nooks
With ten thousand books
And a huge LCD / Wi-Fi-HDTV…"

By the time Milgram gets to, "And a viral clip of a cat doing flips," on You Tube, Granny's got her blanket pulled up and isn't at all sure what to do.

Suddenly, she snaps out of it, throws down her blanket, tosses up her hands. "Okay, that's it!" she yells over the din, then begins yanking away everyone's devices.

But her family's grip is tight and every one of them heartily tugs back, as zoned-out looks turn to shocked ones.

Dad even grabs Granny at the waist to try to keep her from lugging his big-screen TV to the window -- but Granny's motivated.

One by one, every device around the room gets the heave-ho to the sidewalk below.

"Goodnight remotes
And Netflix streams,
Androids, apps,
And glowing screens.
Goodnight plugs
And power lights
That guide us to pee
In the darkness of night."

The best spoof of Goodnight Moon yet, Milgram's poem pokes fun at the compulsive side of our digital culture, while making it fun to laugh at ourselves.

We see the bunny's family glued to Angry Birds and e-readers as if they were the most captivating things they ever saw -- both exaggerating their fixations and showing the hilarious truth to them.

One of the funniest parts of the book is tucked away in the illustrations -- and aptly so, given the wealth of details scattered inside Brown's classic.

When Granny is sitting by the hearth looking cozy, you see a fire beside her, but not in the fireplace. It's playing on a video, and off to either side, are speakers to amplify the crackling sound.

It begs the questions: Did Granny know it was a fake fire when she chose to sit there? Did she know no heat was coming off of it? And finally: Could even Granny be lured into the digital age?

Another great scene occurs when Granny throws electronics out the window. The bunny dives out the window to save them but Mom catches him just in time by the ankles.

Like all fixations, it is so very hard to let go, and though we assume no one would leap out of a window to save their devices, it might be surprising the lengths some would go.

Milgram here has done what I thought was impossible: created a classic from a classic. Though based on another story, it shines on its own and proves to be a clever bedtime story too.

One read through Goodnight ipad and your kids will not only get a good laugh, but get the message: Enough is enough. Scroll down to Shut Down. It's time for bed!

For more on the digital craze, check out The New York Times 2010 article, "If Your Kids Are Awake, They're Probably Online."

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