I guarantee you that Adam Mansbach had no idea the funny yet innocent Facebook status that inspired his book Go the F*ck to Sleep would end up starting an entirely new genre of children’s literature for adults. More than one author has tried to cash in on Mansbach’s success, following his literary paradigm. Marcy Roznick and Miranda Lemming released “If You Give a Kid a Cookie, Will He Shut the F Up?” in October, and now Eric Stangel and Justin Stangel, head writers and producers of the Late Show with David Letterman, “have written a parody of a classic children’s book that truly captures a day in the life of exhausted moms and dads everywhere.” Introducing, “Goodnight Husband, Goodnight Wife,” available March 12th from Insight Editions.
What these copycat parodies fail to realize is that Mansbach’s book was not only inordinately successful because it was the first of its kind, but because his book satirizes a general style rather than parody an exact book, thus allowing for more creativity. Additionally, Mansbach’s entire story focuses on one and only one immediate need that every young parent can relate to: getting your kid to fall asleep. He ups the ante on the same joke throughout. In contrast, The “If You Give a (Blank) a (Blank)” series parodied by Roznick and Lemming isn’t great to begin with, but their version is so crass and rife with such insane and horrible scenarios, I just found it sad. (An alcoholic uncle? Really? Why not just make him a kid-toucher for Christ’s sake?) “Goodnight Husband, Goodnight Wife” is alright as far as humor books go, but it’s almost sacrilegious to defile a classic like “Goodnight Moon” in this way. “Goodnight Moon” is still one of my daughter’s favorites, and she’s 6. Every time we get to “Goodnight, nobody,” I get the chills. That’s brilliant storytelling. “Goodnight Husband, Goodnight Wife” is filled with the kind of stock jokes about marriage and aging that you’d expect to hear on Letterman. As Larry Getlen of Mirth Magazine noted recently, “Letterman intends to sound a bit out of touch.” So if that’s your bag, maybe this book will be, too.
Here’s a sneak preview of “Goodnight Husband, Goodnight Wife.” The art is faithful to the original in that it shifts with each turn of the page from color to black and white. Let me know what you think! Would you buy it?