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The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown

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A dazzling picture book biography of Margaret Wise Brown, the legendary author of Goodnight Moon, Runaway Bunny, and other children’s classics, that is as fearless and groundbreaking as the icon herself was—from award-winning, bestselling author Mac Barnett and rising star illustrator Sarah Jacoby What is important about Margaret Wise Brown? In 42 inspired pages, this biogra A dazzling picture book biography of Margaret Wise Brown, the legendary author of Goodnight Moon, Runaway Bunny, and other children’s classics, that is as fearless and groundbreaking as the icon herself was—from award-winning, bestselling author Mac Barnett and rising star illustrator Sarah Jacoby What is important about Margaret Wise Brown? In 42 inspired pages, this biography by award-winning writer Mac Barnett vividly depicts one of the greatest children’s book creators who ever lived: Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and The Little Fur Family. Illustrated with sumptuous art by rising star Sarah Jacoby, this is essential reading for book lovers of every age.


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A dazzling picture book biography of Margaret Wise Brown, the legendary author of Goodnight Moon, Runaway Bunny, and other children’s classics, that is as fearless and groundbreaking as the icon herself was—from award-winning, bestselling author Mac Barnett and rising star illustrator Sarah Jacoby What is important about Margaret Wise Brown? In 42 inspired pages, this biogra A dazzling picture book biography of Margaret Wise Brown, the legendary author of Goodnight Moon, Runaway Bunny, and other children’s classics, that is as fearless and groundbreaking as the icon herself was—from award-winning, bestselling author Mac Barnett and rising star illustrator Sarah Jacoby What is important about Margaret Wise Brown? In 42 inspired pages, this biography by award-winning writer Mac Barnett vividly depicts one of the greatest children’s book creators who ever lived: Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and The Little Fur Family. Illustrated with sumptuous art by rising star Sarah Jacoby, this is essential reading for book lovers of every age.

30 review for The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown

  1. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    I don't usually post picture books that I've read, but this one struck me as remarkable, so here we are. This is not a typical picture book biography - it's not really about Margaret Wise Brown, it's about thinking about why we care about things and why people think the way they do and act the way they act. It's about Margaret Wise Brown being a person and you reading a book about her and the world after she was in it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mary Hamer

    I had the privilege of seeing and hearing Mac read this out loud and I will tell you - not a dry eye in the room. This picture book is brilliantly written and already holds a special place in my heart. Preorder this - it's amazing.!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Laura Harrison

    Wow! What a remarkable, subversive, unique picture book biography. Mac Barnett has truly outdone himself. It is a fascinating, funny and stunningly beautiful book. I like how the marvelous illustrator, Sarah Jacoby used this title for the book the librarian or teacher rabbit is reading to the little rabbits. Shown is the beautiful floral flyleaf where there is a Margaret Wise Brown quote. I wonder how many ppl will notice. Margaret Wise Brown would love this biography-Anne Carroll Moore (NY Publ Wow! What a remarkable, subversive, unique picture book biography. Mac Barnett has truly outdone himself. It is a fascinating, funny and stunningly beautiful book. I like how the marvelous illustrator, Sarah Jacoby used this title for the book the librarian or teacher rabbit is reading to the little rabbits. Shown is the beautiful floral flyleaf where there is a Margaret Wise Brown quote. I wonder how many ppl will notice. Margaret Wise Brown would love this biography-Anne Carroll Moore (NY Public Library Children's Librarian), would not. It is a shame that one woman held so much power. I wonder how many wonderful books she marked with her rubber stamp Not Recommended for Purchase by Expert. The Important Thing is an important book. I hope it gets the recognition it deserves during awards time 2020.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Hmm, lots of mixed feelings on this one. In a way, it was very touching. It will make you think. It will be memorable. I almost felt like it was trying a little too hard in some ways to be... different? shocking? I'm not sure. I know the subversiveness is supposed to be a celebration of MWB but sometimes it felt too much like the book was was about Barnett’s POV. From the description, I expected a biography but I felt like I learned more about Barnett than I did about Brown--we learn some of wha Hmm, lots of mixed feelings on this one. In a way, it was very touching. It will make you think. It will be memorable. I almost felt like it was trying a little too hard in some ways to be... different? shocking? I'm not sure. I know the subversiveness is supposed to be a celebration of MWB but sometimes it felt too much like the book was was about Barnett’s POV. From the description, I expected a biography but I felt like I learned more about Barnett than I did about Brown--we learn some of what she did but not really why she did them. What was in her mind and heart? I'm disappointed that I came away not feeling like I really got to know her, that the book did not include quotes so we could hear her voice. There's also no Bibliography and I think that is a real shame in a book promoted to be a biography. You can read many other reviews, most of them glowing, but the few key points I want to make are: Parents with sensitive readers will want to preview this--I take issue with the GR description that “this is essential reading for book lovers of every age.” The adorable cover image and blurb doesn't clue you in at all to the emotional roller-coaster and such things as (view spoiler)[death. lots of death. Things like young MWB's pet rabbit dying and then she skins it wears its pelt. I'm not judging her action, and some children may feel reassured that other children think and do “strange” things — but in the book it really just kind of comes out of nowhere and I think could be very upsetting to some children. Ditto on the fact that "The Little Fur Family" used to be covered in real rabbit skins. (hide spoiler)] I also felt Barnett's coverage of Anne Carroll Moore, the influential head Children's Librarian at the New York Public Library, was kind of overboard and took away from the MWB biography. For more on that, you can see this review by Paula, which is my thoughts exactly: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Subjectively, I did not like the style of this book--but, it should be noted, I did not like The Important Book, either. I don't particularly like books that tell me (or children) what to think about something. For example: "There are people who will say a story like this [see above spoiler] doesn't belong in a children's book. But it happened. [...] And isn't it important that children's books contain the things children think of and the things children do, even if those things seem strange?" Now, I'm all for portraying real children in literature, and many of the most memorable and beloved children's book characters do show that children have a range of feelings, thoughts and actions that are not always "nice" or "proper" or whatever term you want to use. My issue with the tone in this book is that, well, maybe some children reading the book wouldn't have thought Margaret's action was "strange" to begin with. Why label it one way or the other and then say how we should feel about it? Why not just say what she did and let it be? Once one starts labeling what is "strange" and what is "not strange" one starts down a slippery slope, even if one has the best of intentions. For example, the inclusion of Nicholas Knickerbocker, the little wooden doll that Anne Carroll Moore takes everywhere with her. Was it included to show that the people who judge others often have things about themselves that some people would consider "strange"? It seems in this book that Margaret's "strange" behaviors are celebrated, but that Nicholas Knickerbocker was brought up as an object of derision and a method of discrediting Moore, and that just seems unfair in a book that is trying so hard to make a point about not excluding or judging people based on their "strangeness."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Oh my goodness. I wasn't ready for this book. It may hit you in the emotions if you are a human, but especially if you are a human who loves books, children, and libraries. It's a picture-book biography of author Margaret Wise Brown, author of classics such as Goodnight Moon and The Important Book. Right away it's stated that this will be a 42-page book, one for each of the years of her life. Now I also want to re-read "Miss Moore Thought Otherwise" to see if librarian Anne Carroll Moore was per Oh my goodness. I wasn't ready for this book. It may hit you in the emotions if you are a human, but especially if you are a human who loves books, children, and libraries. It's a picture-book biography of author Margaret Wise Brown, author of classics such as Goodnight Moon and The Important Book. Right away it's stated that this will be a 42-page book, one for each of the years of her life. Now I also want to re-read "Miss Moore Thought Otherwise" to see if librarian Anne Carroll Moore was perhaps softened a bit in that depiction. ;) (although, to be fair, that book was more about her pioneering of library service to children, a legacy which stands, even though she was, ah, opinionated about certain books). Illustrator Sarah Jacoby used watercolor, Nupastel, and Photoshop. Frontmatter includes a sources list. "Some people, when they see something strange, become bothered. These people build worlds that make perfect sense, even if that means ignoring many strange things around them. Now here is something I believe. No good book is loved by everyone, and any good book is bound to bother somebody. Because every good book is at least a little bit strange, and there are some people who do not like strange things in their world."

  6. 5 out of 5

    KC

    Mac Barnett tells the story of the very important thing about children's writer Margaret Wise Brown. OUTSTANDING illustrations AND story. LOVED THIS.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Hendzlik

    I am not sure I have ever been taken on such a roller coaster of emotions in only 42 pages. This biography of Margaret Wise Brown has everything-it will gross you out, it will make you angry at our ancestor librarians and it will make you tear up with the wisdom and bravery of the quirky author who fervently believed children deserve important books. "Some people, when they see something strange, become bothered. These people build worlds that make perfect sense, even if that means ignoring many str I am not sure I have ever been taken on such a roller coaster of emotions in only 42 pages. This biography of Margaret Wise Brown has everything-it will gross you out, it will make you angry at our ancestor librarians and it will make you tear up with the wisdom and bravery of the quirky author who fervently believed children deserve important books. "Some people, when they see something strange, become bothered. These people build worlds that make perfect sense, even if that means ignoring many strange things around them. Now here is something I believe. No good book is loved by everyone, and any good book is bound to bother somebody. Because every good book is at least a little bit strange, and there are some people who do not like strange things in their world."

  8. 4 out of 5

    C

    This is a very special book. It is at times subversive, thoughtful, honest and very very funny. And so beautiful too.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kris Patrick

    Thank you, Ashley, for sharing with me! I would shelve this with Miss Rumphius and My Great Aunt Arizona. treasures!!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gabriella Crivilare

    Whenever I read a book with a strong narrative voice like this, it's so hard for me not to write my review in a similar manner. So. Here we are. This is a book about Margaret Wise Brown, who you probably know as the author of Goodnight Moon--but you may not know much else about her. Written in a narrative format that pauses to ask the reader questions and probe their feelings, and accompanied by beautiful illustrations that are often metafictional as well (other picture books that children might Whenever I read a book with a strong narrative voice like this, it's so hard for me not to write my review in a similar manner. So. Here we are. This is a book about Margaret Wise Brown, who you probably know as the author of Goodnight Moon--but you may not know much else about her. Written in a narrative format that pauses to ask the reader questions and probe their feelings, and accompanied by beautiful illustrations that are often metafictional as well (other picture books that children might know and love can be spied in the scenes where the rabbit is reading this very book). More importantly, though, this book tells you about the life of an absolutely amazing woman who left a deep impact on children's literature. It even features one of my favorite anecdotes about her (adults, pick up In the Great Green Room for more), and it never shies away from the delightful strangeness or reality of her life. My favorite quote: "[S]ometimes you find a book that feels as strange as life does. These books feel true. These books are important. Margaret Wise Brown wrote books like this, and she wrote them for children, because she believed children deserve important books." Honestly this rings so true to me because many of my favorite books from my childhood that have stuck with me even until now are books like these. So, Margaret Wise Brown understood an important thing: children deserve books that are odd, true, and more. I think this book honors that.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Effie

    This is the best biography for kids I have ever read. I love the way Mac Barnett has a conversation with kids about Margaret Wise Brown. It makes me love them both.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kazia

    I can't decide if I love this book or hate it? Something about it is so emotionally evocative but a bunch of things also got under my skin.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    I was never a huge fan of Margaret Wise Brown, but she certainly was important! Now I'll have to read some of the books listed in the bibliography and find more out about her. This book is not really only about Brown, but more about the impact she had on kids' lit, in spite of the opposition of Anne Carrol Moore, who was an excellent example of someone who had far too much impact on kids' lit. Moore had very definite ideas on just what kids SHOULD read and like and Brown's books did not meet her I was never a huge fan of Margaret Wise Brown, but she certainly was important! Now I'll have to read some of the books listed in the bibliography and find more out about her. This book is not really only about Brown, but more about the impact she had on kids' lit, in spite of the opposition of Anne Carrol Moore, who was an excellent example of someone who had far too much impact on kids' lit. Moore had very definite ideas on just what kids SHOULD read and like and Brown's books did not meet her standard. Since my specialty was collection development, this was of interest to me. Certainly there were books I didn't like, sometimes passionately disliked. However, some of those were purchased for other reasons. There was a saying in our field that every book should be disliked by at least someone. This was acknowledgement that Moore was ultimately wrong in her attitude that only she knew what was best for kids. She was important in that she started the concept of children rooms in libraries but that was pretty much where her importance should have stopped. Some books that I purchased that I didn't like were first books in a new subject. Often these were not the best written or illustrated books but their importance was that they introduced new subjects to kids lit. I was never impressed with "Heather has two mommies" but it was purchased because it was the first book for little kids that showed lesbians as parents with a family. I much preferred "Daddy's roommate" in terms of writing. But I never removed "Heather" because it was important as the first in a field. This kind of nuance was wasted on Moore. Brown likely would have agreed with my choices if she could have. I have to wonder how much impact Moore has had on the concept behind ALA book awards. Often I feel the books that win are books that adults think kids should read, rather than top quality books that kids will find interesting. Back to Brown. She was, to put it mildly, eccentric. And that would show in her books. Now I'll have to read some of her books again, starting with goodnight moon, which I have never liked! I also want to try some of the books listed in the bibliography. Barnett openly acknowledges to children readers that he included some things that some adults would disapprove of...such as the fact that Brown adorned herself in rabbit's fur (yuck!) or that she swam naked (neat!). Now, I get the point about the rabbit fur, that likely it was a memorial to a beloved pet and that it was skinned after the pet died a normal death, not killed. But these days fur on clothes often comes from killed animals which is a very different concept. Nonetheless, I agree that was an important thing about Brown, that she was an animal lover and showed it in an unusual way. I also get Barnett's point that it is important to let kids know other kids do such things and that that is all right. I do rather wish some nuance had been made in the book about the fur though. Really, in many ways Barnett is not writing about Brown so much as exploring whether it is ever all right to bury a book because the message is not a popular one. I think it is, depending on the time and subject. Today I would refuse to buy "Heather" because we have better quality books on the subject and it is not needed. I am referring to the original edition that were purchased by libraries. Please note, I have not read Newman's later books and do not have an opinion as to general quality of her writing! "Heather" was way too long and really rather boring. It included irrelevant details, some of which the author removed from the 25th edition. But I was right to buy the book when originally published because it was needed then. Barnett's message is that it is fine to have strange and unusual messages in books for kids. While I don't think the general theme of this book would be challenged as such, I do think that some specifics in this book will lead to this being banned. Which I think was part of Barnett's point! The important thing about Brown and Barnett is that they wrote and write books! Highly recommended, more as a discussion on what makes a good book than about Brown's actual life. Hand to kids who are struggling because their writing is being rejected or who have lifestyle choices that are unusual and could use the boost in ego that their choices are ok, or to kids who loved "Goodnight Moon"!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    The important thing about this picture book biography, is that Mac Barnett wrote it in a similar style to the way MWB wrote The Important Book. It is a somewhat unconventional biography, in that he doesn't write about her childhood or schooling, but concentrates on interesting tidbits in her life, but most importantly, about the rejection of her books by the famous New York Public Library's children's librarian Anne Carroll Moore, and MWB's response. The impressionistic watercolor illustrations The important thing about this picture book biography, is that Mac Barnett wrote it in a similar style to the way MWB wrote The Important Book. It is a somewhat unconventional biography, in that he doesn't write about her childhood or schooling, but concentrates on interesting tidbits in her life, but most importantly, about the rejection of her books by the famous New York Public Library's children's librarian Anne Carroll Moore, and MWB's response. The impressionistic watercolor illustrations are a bit retro, and perfectly suited to the text. While most of the illustrations feature people, a few of the illustrations depict an adult rabbit reading to a circle of young rabbits, who are looking at various MWB books. Very creative and innovative.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    "The important thing about Margaret Wise Brown is that she wrote books."  Mac Barnett, if you haven't spent any time with him, is one of the most delightful children's book authors of our time.  If I summed him up in one insignificant word, I'd say "funny" because it mostly captures the breadth of his work, from his silly picture books to Wimpy-Kid readalike chapter books. But in his biography of predecessor Margaret Wise Brown, he showcases a positively stunning simplicity of language, a thoughtf "The important thing about Margaret Wise Brown is that she wrote books."  Mac Barnett, if you haven't spent any time with him, is one of the most delightful children's book authors of our time.  If I summed him up in one insignificant word, I'd say "funny" because it mostly captures the breadth of his work, from his silly picture books to Wimpy-Kid readalike chapter books. But in his biography of predecessor Margaret Wise Brown, he showcases a positively stunning simplicity of language, a thoughtful exploration of what it means to be an "important" person, and thoroughly original profile of an incredibly interesting woman. In 42 pages, Barnett addresses what, to him, are the important facets of Brown's brief but impactful life.  He starts at her colorful childhood, where she navigated both an avid love of animals and a sensible attitude about their mortality.  He next lands on the exuberant and to some, nonsensical reaction to receiving her first paycheck for her first children's book. He showcases her colorful habits of skinny-dipping and tea-parties on the street and her love for both men and women. He ends the book with a plain but sweet explanation of her early demise.  And within that, he explores how the world reacts to "strange" people who write "strange" books, and why people were so resistant to her particular brand of storytelling for so long. Sarah Jacoby illustrates with soft, sweet paintings that evoke the feel of The Runaway Bunny while still keeping a distinct style. Lots of movement and life, very fitting to her subject.  Technically, the book is a marvel.  Barnett's choice of words are specific at each moment.  And the themes on display are wonderful. It challenges children to think about how we judge people and how we judge books. The simple, straight-forward narration opens conversation to big and complicated ideas.  It also packs in one big belly laugh, very in tune to his brand of humor. This book is Barnett's masterpiece and it needs all the awards!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lexi

    This was either the best book I’ve ever read or the absolute worst. Margaret Wise Brown was batshit crazy, although completely unafraid to be herself. Most people don’t know how out of the box she was so this book is a fun, bizarre, and unexpected read. Still trying to process this one...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    I love that this story is as strange and beautiful as Margaret Wise Brown was, and that it has an uncomfortable ending. Because life is unpredictable and strange.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    "Lives are strange. And there are people who do not like strange stories, especially in books for children. But sometimes you find a book that feels as strange as life does. These books feel true. These books are important. Margaret Wise Brown wrote books like this, and she wrote them for children, because she believed children deserved important books." My mom gave this book a glowing review which should have prepared me to be wrecked, BUT I WASN'T. Mac Barnett and Sarah Jacoby have created the ul "Lives are strange. And there are people who do not like strange stories, especially in books for children. But sometimes you find a book that feels as strange as life does. These books feel true. These books are important. Margaret Wise Brown wrote books like this, and she wrote them for children, because she believed children deserved important books." My mom gave this book a glowing review which should have prepared me to be wrecked, BUT I WASN'T. Mac Barnett and Sarah Jacoby have created the ultimate tribute and loving homage to the beautifully strange and game-changing life and work of children's book creator Margaret Wise Brown, but what they've also created is a manifesto for anyone who celebrates the magic of childhood and the power of self-expression. I would love to delve deeper into MWB's brief and fascinating life (if only to be able to appreciate more of the subtle references woven into every page; easter eggs abound). Also: was surprised but intrigued by the tea spilled on the formidable Anne Carroll Moore, whose conservative values/selectivity were largely glossed over in 2013's Miss Moore Thought Otherwise. Womp womp.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    There's a lot to like about this book, including wonderful illustrations by Sarah Jacoby, but also some things that are a bit disappointing. This is obviously not a book for reading to your preschooler, which is fine. Older kids could read it on their own, but they, also, like to be read aloud to, and this book would work well for sharing with a curious elementary-school-aged child. Hopefully they would want to find out more about Brown after hearing the tidbits offered here. I like that author M There's a lot to like about this book, including wonderful illustrations by Sarah Jacoby, but also some things that are a bit disappointing. This is obviously not a book for reading to your preschooler, which is fine. Older kids could read it on their own, but they, also, like to be read aloud to, and this book would work well for sharing with a curious elementary-school-aged child. Hopefully they would want to find out more about Brown after hearing the tidbits offered here. I like that author Mac Barnett includes Brown's personal history with rabbits before going on to talk about some of her books that feature rabbits. But I wasn't thrilled about the extensive emphasis on Anne Carroll Moore, the influential head Children's Librarian at the New York Public Library in the early-to-mid-2oth Century. It's fine to point out that Moore didn't care for Brown's books. But if you really want to discredit her - which Barnett seems to want to do - he might have mentioned that she also didn't like Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books, or E. B. White's "Charlotte's Web". The way this book is written, it's as if Moore had a personal vendetta against Brown, and only Brown. Moore did many positive things for the advancement of children's literature, but her taste, obviously, was not infallible. I think it would have been enough to just point that out. Barnett goes on and on about Moore and her little doll Nicholas Knickerbocker (OK, that's a whole weird thing in itself) in such a judgy way that we lose sight of Brown for several important pages. Overall, though, I love that there's a new book about Margaret Wise Brown for kids to read. "Goodnight, Moon" is a deceptively simple gem, one of the first books my daughter ever responded to, and "The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin" remains one of my favorite Autumn/Halloween story books.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    The. Best. Picture Book Biography. Ever.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    This is an unusual book about an incredibly unusual children's author. We all know GOODNIGHT MOON and THE RUNAWAY BUNNY as nursery room staples, but how much do you know about the unique woman who wrote them? The author takes a cue from Brown's writing style. He jumps around from subject to subject. He tosses in nonsensical elements. He asks open-ended questions of the reader. It's weird, but it's also the way kids' minds work, and that was something Brown intuitively grasped, too. Humane familie This is an unusual book about an incredibly unusual children's author. We all know GOODNIGHT MOON and THE RUNAWAY BUNNY as nursery room staples, but how much do you know about the unique woman who wrote them? The author takes a cue from Brown's writing style. He jumps around from subject to subject. He tosses in nonsensical elements. He asks open-ended questions of the reader. It's weird, but it's also the way kids' minds work, and that was something Brown intuitively grasped, too. Humane families note: Margaret Wise Brown was a fan of fur, and there are several references to this throughout the book. When she was a child, when one of her many pet rabbits died, she skinned the body and wore the animal's pelt. The original edition of "The Little Fur Family," a book that ironically encourages kindness to small creatures, came bound in real rabbit skins. Even in her adulthood, she had a closet full of fur coats. This is strange information to absorb for those of us who know what animals endure to create fur "fashion," as well as the fact that Brown seemed to have an affinity for animals and rabbits in particular. However, Brown was also a product of her time (she died in 1952), and lived during an era when fur was more acceptable and humane issues not as prominent. A thought: Pair this book with a humane ed title like Friends in Fur Coats, which explores why animals need their coats more than we do.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Boni

    Um, 10 stars. My favorite picture book this year. The important thing about picture books is that is where you start.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Margie

    At times a book interests you because of specific things you find fascinating. Other titles will be chosen because of references made by readers you admire. Regardless of the reason, on a sunny spring morning you are likely to find yourself sitting down with a book you're eager to read. You look at the dust jacket. You remove the jacket to look at the book case. You find yourself smiling at the title, verso and dedication pages. The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown (Balzar + Bray, an im At times a book interests you because of specific things you find fascinating. Other titles will be chosen because of references made by readers you admire. Regardless of the reason, on a sunny spring morning you are likely to find yourself sitting down with a book you're eager to read. You look at the dust jacket. You remove the jacket to look at the book case. You find yourself smiling at the title, verso and dedication pages. The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown (Balzar + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, May 21, 2019) written by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Sarah Jacoby is a book which fills every one of those previous qualifying remarks. It is guaranteed to shift your thoughts on Margaret Wise Brown, and the art of making books as it increases your respect for creators Mac Barnett and Sarah Jacoby. My full recommendation: https://librariansquest.blogspot.com/...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Richie Partington

    Richie’s Picks: THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT MARGARET WISE BROWN by Mac Barnett and Sarah Jacoby, ill., HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, May 2019, 48p., ISBN: 978-0-06-239344-9 “Isn’t life strange A turn of the page Can read like before Can we ask for more” -- John Lodge, “Isn’t Life Strange” (1972) I have some experience with picture book biographies. I’ve read hundreds of them and have written about dozens of my favorites. I also spent several semesters teaching a library school class on picture books for Richie’s Picks: THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT MARGARET WISE BROWN by Mac Barnett and Sarah Jacoby, ill., HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, May 2019, 48p., ISBN: 978-0-06-239344-9 “Isn’t life strange A turn of the page Can read like before Can we ask for more” -- John Lodge, “Isn’t Life Strange” (1972) I have some experience with picture book biographies. I’ve read hundreds of them and have written about dozens of my favorites. I also spent several semesters teaching a library school class on picture books for older readers, in which picture book biographies was a principal category. THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT MARGARET WISE BROWN could well be the most memorable picture book biography I’ve ever encountered. It’s compelling, bizarre, subversive, perplexing, and moving, and it shakes up some of what I thought I knew. Readers paying attention will note that, at the outset, and again at the conclusion of the story, Mac Barnett tells us that, “The important thing about Margaret Wise Brown is that she wrote books.” This means that all the quirky stuff in the book about Margaret Wise Brown--and this is the quirkiest picture book biography you’ll ever encounter--is not as important as the fact that she wrote books by which, generations later, we still know of her. But the other stuff is incredibly interesting. And sometimes bizarre. Like how, when she was little, Margaret had a population explosion of pet rabbits, and when one of them died, she skinned it and wore its pelt. Like how librarian Anne Carroll Moore (a deity to library science students) totally blew it and dismissed GOODNIGHT MOON and other Margaret Wise Brown titles.Or how Ms. Brown and her editor, the legendary Ursula Nordstrom, after being excluded from a tea party for authors and illustrators at the NY Public Library, held their own tea party outside on the steps. Mr. Barnett concludes his story with useful advice for reading any biography: “Lives don’t work the way most books do. They can end suddenly, as fast as you kick your leg in the air. Lives are funny and sad, scary and comforting, beautiful and ugly, but not when they’re supposed to be, and sometimes all at the same time. There are patterns in a life, and patterns in a story, but in real lives and good stories the patterns are hard to see, because the truth is never made of straight lines. Lives are strange. And there are people who do not like strange stories, especially in books for children. But sometimes you find a book that feels as strange as life does. These books feel true. These books are important.” Many picture book biographies are ultimately forgettable. You may gain snippets of information, but there’s no real story to enjoy and share. Some picture book bios are written by gifted storytellers, such as a recent favorite of mine, SO TALL WITHIN: SOJOURNER TRUTH’S LONG WALK TO FREEDOM by Gary D. Schmidt. That can make all the difference in the world. THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT MARGARET WISE BROWN stands on a whole different level. You have the storytelling talents of Mac Barnett, who is both a wiseguy and a wise guy. You have top-notch illustrating by Sarah Jacoby. You have a subject whose name is universally recognized yet whose life included some aspects that one would never expect. The result is an off-the-chart picture book biography that I’ll not soon forget. Richie Partington, MLIS Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com https://www.facebook.com/richiespicks/ richiepartington@gmail.com

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jana

    Lots of young readers have included Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny and The Little Fur Family among their favorite story books. This fascinating picture book biography takes a look at the life of the famous children's author by relating little-known, unusual facts about her - like the origins of her penchant for rabbit fur, her habit of swimming naked in cold water, and her peculiar (and perhaps dangerous) architectural choices. The book is 42 pages in length, one page for each year of Brown's Lots of young readers have included Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny and The Little Fur Family among their favorite story books. This fascinating picture book biography takes a look at the life of the famous children's author by relating little-known, unusual facts about her - like the origins of her penchant for rabbit fur, her habit of swimming naked in cold water, and her peculiar (and perhaps dangerous) architectural choices. The book is 42 pages in length, one page for each year of Brown's life and includes gorgeous illustrations to complement the narrative. This could be a terrific mentor text for young writers looking for ways to highlight interesting and unusual facts in their own informational writing. It could also be great inspiration for those that want to become writers themselves.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    This is such a layered book! I loved it. Totally fascinating. A sort-of biography of Margaret Wise Brown, but not geared towards report-writing-- this is less about the minute details of her life, and more about the quirkiness and beauty of her work, and the legacy she left. I love that this book features three very influential women- children's book editor Ursula Nordstrom and the rather infamous NYPL children's librarian, Anne Carroll Moore, in addition to Margaret Wise Brown- and shows that t This is such a layered book! I loved it. Totally fascinating. A sort-of biography of Margaret Wise Brown, but not geared towards report-writing-- this is less about the minute details of her life, and more about the quirkiness and beauty of her work, and the legacy she left. I love that this book features three very influential women- children's book editor Ursula Nordstrom and the rather infamous NYPL children's librarian, Anne Carroll Moore, in addition to Margaret Wise Brown- and shows that they were all unusual in their own ways, and they were all powerful, though they may have had opposing viewpoints. The 20th century style illustrations are beautiful and are a perfect complement to the book's content.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    i love these little books that come across my hold shelf when i can't remember why i requested it or how i found it. i have been fascinated by margaret wise brown (author of 'goodnight, moon' amongst many many other books) and her non-conventional life. to turn that story in to a children's book that tackles censorship is a stroke of genius. the text of the book does not mince words, and leaves the reader with a lot of conversation topics with children. just like a good book should! read more ab i love these little books that come across my hold shelf when i can't remember why i requested it or how i found it. i have been fascinated by margaret wise brown (author of 'goodnight, moon' amongst many many other books) and her non-conventional life. to turn that story in to a children's book that tackles censorship is a stroke of genius. the text of the book does not mince words, and leaves the reader with a lot of conversation topics with children. just like a good book should! read more about wise brown here - she's a delight. https://www.npr.org/2017/01/22/510642...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Deja

    This book. This book is one of the best books I've read. I love it so much. I didn't even know one could write a book like this. It is a strange book. Margaret Wise Brown was a strange person. (She wrote Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon and Little Fur Family and Big Red Barn.) I love her. And I love this book. Here is one of the very good parts: "Some people, when they see something strange, become bothered. These people build worlds that make perfect sense, even if that means ignoring many strange t This book. This book is one of the best books I've read. I love it so much. I didn't even know one could write a book like this. It is a strange book. Margaret Wise Brown was a strange person. (She wrote Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon and Little Fur Family and Big Red Barn.) I love her. And I love this book. Here is one of the very good parts: "Some people, when they see something strange, become bothered. These people build worlds that make perfect sense, even if that means ignoring many strange things around them. ... No good book is loved by everyone, and any good book is bound to bother somebody. Because every good book is at least a little bit strange, and there are some people who do not like strange things in their world."

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kifflie

    It has been quite some time since I have read a picture book biography that is so beautifully surprising and subversive. Apparently the author of Goodnight Moon was quite an odd character (whodda thunk it?) and this is reflected in the conversational, sassy text by Mac Barnett. Brown's life was sadly cut short at the age of 42, but she wrote many children's books over the years, and of course her work is still beloved (even if Anne Carroll Moore disapproved!). Sarah Jacoby's illustrations are rem It has been quite some time since I have read a picture book biography that is so beautifully surprising and subversive. Apparently the author of Goodnight Moon was quite an odd character (whodda thunk it?) and this is reflected in the conversational, sassy text by Mac Barnett. Brown's life was sadly cut short at the age of 42, but she wrote many children's books over the years, and of course her work is still beloved (even if Anne Carroll Moore disapproved!). Sarah Jacoby's illustrations are reminiscent of those in Brown's most popular books. I was thoroughly entertained by this.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    "Children deserve important books," was something Margaret Wise Brown believed strongly. Mac Barnett's striking text provides a picture of this important and often strange author,a fascinating peek at the history of the development of children's literature and strongly defends her belief. Sarah Jacoby's extraordinary watercolor illustrations require the same careful attention as Barnett's text, providing a wealth of interesting details for the careful reader. This is an unique and outstanding boo "Children deserve important books," was something Margaret Wise Brown believed strongly. Mac Barnett's striking text provides a picture of this important and often strange author,a fascinating peek at the history of the development of children's literature and strongly defends her belief. Sarah Jacoby's extraordinary watercolor illustrations require the same careful attention as Barnett's text, providing a wealth of interesting details for the careful reader. This is an unique and outstanding book and one that is important. Margaret Wise Brown would have approved.

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