Book Review: Good Night Our World Series

Photo of the cover of Good Night California. The cover shows a mother and her two children reading bedtime stories while looking out a window at the California coastline.

I picked up an interesting board book yesterday for my boy, which is saying something because we have more than enough saved up from our first child.

Good Night California is one in a series of books about US cities and states, the Good Night Our World series. Given the name, I presume they’ll be branching out to other select countries at some point.

Each page features drawings of locations in California, usually specific places such as the Golden Gate Bridge or Yosemite. Other times places are generic, such as a beach or a farmer’s market.

It reminds of my G is for Golden, A California Alphabet, a book series for slightly older kids that is available for all US states and a variety of other subjects.

The first few pages of Good Night begin with a salutation of "Good morning," with the aim of celebrating the place you live. For example, "Good morning, redwood trees. Giant and ancient, you are treasures of the world."

The salutations progress to "Happy springtime," "Hello," "Good afternoon," "Greetings," "Thank you," "Good evening," "Good night," and "Sleep tight."

A few things stood out to me:

1. Two endangered species are cited, both correctly shown in a zoo environment, the only place most people in this state may ever see them: "Happy springtime California condor and chicks. [...] Happy springtime, brown bear and cub, playing at the zoo."

2. Did I say the book celebrates the place you live? Oops… "Good evening, California freeways, full of many cars and vehicles." Rush hour isn’t among the things I would tout about California, but I guess kids love cars.

3. Eight of the 24 subjects in the book are man-made, such as the famous Hollywood Hills sign and San Francisco’s cable cars.

4. Six of the subjects feature a father and his child in the scene. Two feature a mother, three if you count the book’s cover. Look at the book image above. Is that family living in a lighthouse, or is their home about to be washed away when the cliff erodes? Anyhow, my wife thinks the book is dad-centered.

5. California is a tough area to cover given its size, but the book does a decent job.

6. The illustrations are lackluster, having a cartoon-like appearance and digitally applied colors. It is most apparent in gradients, such as in water or sky… and clouds created with a spray can tool. A flat 2-D approach with single-color objects would be more appealing for these line drawings, or perhaps a different drawing style.

I recommend the Good Night Our World series as an introduction to geography. Sure, at first it’s merely about looking at the pictures, but around the 2- to 3-year mark kids start differentiating locations. They recognize places they’ve been, even if distances are hard to grasp.

Then you or someone your kid knows goes on a long-distance trip and suddenly questions are being asked and you are showing your kid maps trying to explain.

"This is where we are. This is where Grandma lives. Remember how long it took to drive to Grandma’s house? Well, look where your friend went, all the way to Florida. It would take a whole week to drive there."

So with a 4-year-old and a 4-month-old in my home, we will be using this book for Big Sister to share with Little Brother, and pulling out a map of our state to show Big Sister where each of these places are located.

The books retail for $10 on Amazon, but we found ours for $7 at Costco.

Cities covered as of July 2008:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Cape Cod
  • Charleston
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Florida Keys
  • Los Angeles
  • Martha’s Vineyard
  • Montreal
  • Nantucket
  • New York City
  • Philadelphia
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle

States:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington, DC (should be a state)

Generic:

  • Beach
  • Lake
  • World (August 2008)
  • Zoo

Comments

3 Responses to “Book Review: Good Night Our World Series”

  1. Chic Momma says:

    We have the Good Night Philadelphia book that was given as a gift. It’s neat to introduce my son to the places we can visit when he gets older.

    Anyway, it is amusing to hear my 19 month old say Philadelphia when asking for his book.

    July 10th, 2008 at 5:50 am

  2. JMo says:

    I will totally be going to the local Costco to look for this book! But perhaps it should have been Good Night Brown Bear, with the bear digging in the garage cans at Yosemite camp grounds?

    I’ll have my ILs on the lookout for “Good Night Fly-Over States”. ;-)

    July 10th, 2008 at 8:31 am

  3. Kimberly says:

    Dang it… just a month or so ago I was talking about writing a series of these books. I thought it was a genius kids book idea.

    Shoot.

    July 10th, 2008 at 3:58 pm

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