Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is one of the biggest selling children’s book of all time and, strangely, is the place where Opus the Penguin of Bloom County is currently spending eternity. It is a simple book, but quite effective and nearly every parent who has read it once has probably read it thousands of times. Goodnight Moon is the kind of book that lends itself to cries of “read it again” from satisfied children. I have no problem with the book and highly recommend it, but you might want to consider finding a copy at a yard sale or otherwise gaining hold of this volume apart from buying it from Barnes and Noble or off Amazon. The reason is that every time a new purchase of Goodnight Moon is made the royalties go not to the author, but to a wastrel, rounder, drug addict, and jailbird. And that’s all the same person.
When Margaret Wise Brown passed away it was revealed that she had willed all royalties of Goodnight Moon to one Albert Clarke. Clarke had been but a little nine year old neighbor’s boy when Wise Brown wrote Goodnight Moon. Margaret doubtlessly had good intentions, but you know that they say about good intentions. That and ten bucks will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. At the time, Goodnight Moon was not exactly up in the stratosphere alongside Cat in the Hat or Nancy Drew when it came to juvie fiction. It had sold briskly, but was not yet a permanent place inside the bedroom of nearly every nursery in America. In fact, it was on the verge of going out of print. And then a strange thing happened that nobody in publishing can ever explain every time it happens: Goodnight Moon took off. And in the process it made Albert Clarke (not the science fiction master, Arthur C. Clarke, I suppose I should add at this point) a very wealthy man.
It would be so nice to tell you that Albert Clarke took that money and invested it in the future of country: kids. It would be nice to say he built at least one library or school or even just a really nifty two-story treehouse for underprivileged kids. But that is the kind of story you only see in Frank Capra movies and other Oscar-winning films. The sad fact is that the very first thing Albert Clarke bought with his money was a car. The second was probably drugs. One thing is known for sure: Albert Clarke enjoys his drugs. A lot. Maybe even more so than Robert Downey, Jr. (I kid Robert; he was really terrific in Tropic Thunder, probably would have won the Oscar had Heath Ledger not died…well, maybe he would have won; probably should have won at any rate, although Ledger was so exceptional that The Dark Night kinds of peters off into the arena of boring whenever he’s not on screen, so it’s a tough call.) It wasn’t enough for Clarke to get the money, apparently. He also insists that one night he overheard his mum say that Margaret Wise Brown was his actual biological mother.
That Albert Clarke is delusional is probable; that his delusions probably stem from all the royalties he’s gotten from the classic children’s book Goodnight Moon is probably undeniable. Along the way, Albert was actually arrested for burglary. Why someone who is collecting thousands and thousands of dollars off the work of another person would have to steal is something that only corporate CEOs can probably answer. More arrests followed, along with a meet and marry a girl in the same week that ended, predictably enough, in failure. Another marriage produced some daughters and an attempt at kidnapping his own kid. It’s a sad, pathetic story that, needless to say, in no way tarnishes Goodnight Moon.
The ability of Mr. Clarke to live off the work of Margaret Wise Brown would have ended soon enough, but Pres. Clinton signed Sonny Bono’s copyright extension act so Clarke could conceivably be making money off Goodnight Moon until he reaches the century mark. If he lives so long. And just how much money does Albert Clarke make off Goodnight Moon? In 1998 Clarke made almost half a million dollars and since the little book that could keeps on canning, one can only imagine how much this degenerate is making off all the oblivious parents in the world today.
Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any information on Albert Clarke that is recent. I can only assume he is still alive and still making money. And that is why I call on book buyers everywhere to get your copy of Goodnight Moon used or previous owned or straight from collectors or off eBay. Just don’t buy Goodnight Moon new. Just say no to help force Albert Clarke just say no. Unless he is already dead, in which case the money would probably go to his daughters. Not sure about that also not sure what kind of people the daughters are. You know what? Better just to keep buying Goodnight Moon in glorious used editions.