The important thing about Margaret Wise Brown

Mac Barnett

Book - 2019

A picture book biography of the children's book author shares insights into her life and enduring literary influence.

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Subjects
Genres
Biographies
Picture books
Published
New York, NY : Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers [2019]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
42 pages : color illustrations ; 30 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN
9780062393449
0062393448
Main Author
Mac Barnett (author)
Other Authors
Sarah (Illustrator) Jacoby (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* A paean to iconoclastic imagination, Barnett and Jacoby's tribute to the prolific children's author repeatedly asks and tries to answer, What is important about Margaret Wise Brown? Using his narrative to inject whimsical facts about Brown and her picture books—and even her nemesis, the powerful children's librarian Anne Carroll Moore—Barnett glories in idiosyncrasy. The story moves between a group of rabbits at storytime (illustrated à la Clement Hurd) to flashes of Brown's life itself (done by Jacoby in light, flowery, and even moody watercolors), as if being told to the bunnies pictured with her books (Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, among others). Adding to the strange juxtapositions, which mirror the odd, unexplained segues Brown was known for, are descriptions of things Brown did—such as raising rabbits as a child, and, when one died, skinning it and making a scarf of its pelt. There are people who will say a story like this doesn't belong in a children's book, Barnett posits, before later going on to say, in regards to Moore's dislike of Brown's oeuvre, No good book is loved by everyone. Yet he believes, like Brown, that children are capable of contemplating the strange. It's a book with a brave appeal, and its admiration of Brown and respect for children makes it a standout picture-book biography—even if its whimsy won't appeal to every taste. Grades K-3. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Margaret Wise Brown lived a dashing, colorful life and wrote more than 100 children's books before her untimely death at 42. In an era when fairy tales ruled, the here-and-now realism of titles such as Goodnight Moon was harshly judged. Barnett's confiding tone draws readers in ("Have you read this book? Do you know what I mean?"), then makes the case for Brown's work ("Every good book is at least a little bit strange"). Personifying the resistance to her books is powerful children's librarian Anne Carroll Moore, who refuses to purchase many of them for the New York Public Library ("truck," she calls them) and declines to invite her to a prestigious library bash—whereupon Brown, along with her editor Ursula Nordstrom, stages a whimsical rebellion on the institution's steps. Jacoby's richly colored illustrations shift between episodes from Brown's life and scenes of a librarian rabbit reading Brown's and Barnett's books (and this one) to young bunnies. Barnett yokes his story to Brown's work, playing with The Important Book's form to consider what might be momentous about the life of this extravagant, much-loved creator. As with the original, reactions will vary, but most readers can agree that "the important thing about Margaret Wise Brown is that she wrote books." Ages 4–8. (May) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 1–5—Legendary New York Public librarian Anne Carroll Moore would have probably called this provocative biography "truck"—in other words, "the wrong kind of book." And while it is true that the book is unorthodox, one could argue that its subject is equally so. At the onset, readers learn that this picture book is longer than most—a deliberate 42 pages to document a life of 42 years—and that Brown grew up in a house in the woods with many pets including a dog, two squirrels, and 36 rabbits. When one of these rabbits died, she skinned it and wore its pelt around her neck. But the important thing shared on the second page and repeated on the last is that "she wrote books"—more than 100. Jacoby fancifully shows little bunnies reading and listening to some of Brown's most popular titles at the library, a few of which are summarized as well. An inordinate number of pages are devoted to Moore's disapproval and refusal to recognize Brown's groundbreaking contributions to the field of children's literature. The delightful, whimsical illustrations are rendered in watercolor, Nupastel, and Photoshop and portray a young, blond, energetic Brown chasing her dog, swimming naked, buying a cartload of fresh flowers, and admiring the sea from the bow of the ship meant to deliver her to a new, exciting life. Sadly, "Lives don't work the way most books do. They can end suddenly, as fast as you kick your leg in the air." VERDICT An important, groundbreaking biography inspired by Brown's legacy.—Barbara Auerbach, Cairo Public Library, NY Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A picture-book biography of the legendary author of Goodnight Moon, Runaway Bunny and other children's classics shares insights into her life and enduring literary influence. By the Caldecott Honor-winning author of Extra Yarn and the award-winning illustrator of Forever or a Day. 75,000 first printi

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A picture book biography of the children's book author shares insights into her life and enduring literary influence.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

An exceptional picture book biography of Margaret Wise Brown, the legendary author of Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and other beloved children’s classics, that's as groundbreaking as the icon herself was—from award-winning, bestselling author Mac Barnett and acclaimed illustrator Sarah Jacoby.What is important about Margaret Wise Brown?In forty-two inspired pages, this biography artfully plays with form and language to vivdly bring to life one of greatest children’s book creators who ever lived: Margaret Wise Brown.Illustrated with sumptuous art by rising star Sarah Jacoby, this is essential reading for book lovers of every age.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

An exceptional picture book biography of Margaret Wise Brown, the legendary author of Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and other beloved children's classics, that's as groundbreaking as the icon herself was'from award-winning, bestselling author Mac Barnett and acclaimed illustrator Sarah Jacoby.What is important about Margaret Wise Brown?In forty-two inspired pages, this biography artfully plays with form and language to vivdly bring to life one of greatest children's book creators who ever lived: Margaret Wise Brown.Illustrated with sumptuous art by rising star Sarah Jacoby, this is essential reading for book lovers of every age.