Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Monday, May 23, 2011


Margaret Wise Brown
Today marks the birthday of Margaret Wise Brown, one of America's most prolific children's book authors of the Twentieth Century. She attempted to write most of her books from the "here and now" perspective of a child, rather than in the more popular style of the day: fairytale and fantasy.  Her books often included animals and everyday things that mattered to children.  Even though she died at the young age of 42, at the peak of her career she had over 100 books in print.  She chose her illustrators carefully.  They included Clement Hurd, Garth Williams, Felicia Bond, and Leonard Weisgard.


She is probably best known for her timeless classic, GOODNIGHT MOON (1947), illustrated by Clement Hurd.  Who can forget the rhythmic text that begins:
In the great green room
There was a telephone 
And a red balloon
And a picture of --
The cow jumping over the moon!

The whole story takes place in one room, as the baby bunny bids a ritual "goodnight" to all the objects in his room.  Have you ever noticed these little details...
-the hands on the two clocks progress from 7 PM to 8:10 PM.
-the young mouse and kittens wander around the room. The mouse is present in all pages showing the room.
-the red balloon hanging over the bed disappears in several of the color plates, then reappears at the end.
-the room lighting grows progressively darker.
-the moon rises in the left-hand window.
-the socks disappear from the drying rack.
-the open book in the bookshelf is The Runaway Bunny.
-the book on the nightstand is Goodnight Moon.
-in the painting of the cow jumping over the moon, the mailbox in the right-hand side of the painting occasionally disappears.
-in the painting of the three bears, the painting hanging in the bears' room is a painting of a cow jumping over the moon.
-the painting of the fly-fishing bunny, which appears only in two color plates, appears to be black and white (or otherwise devoid of color). It is very similar to a picture in the book The Runaway Bunny.
-the number of books in the bookshelf changes.
-the pendulum of the bedside clock disappears in the final room scene
-the stripes on the bunny's shirt change
-in the last page the word bunny is gone off the brush

A new (though even older never-before-published!) "goodnight book" by Margaret Wise Brown is THE FATHERS ARE COMING HOME (2010), pictures by talented illustrator Stephen Savage.
It is nighttime and the fathers are coming home... 

This book is a perfect bedtime story, and would also be a great read for Father's Day.  The original manuscript was written in 1943, as a tribute to WWII fathers, but it was never published.  Though lost for years with many other of Brown's writings, it was finally published in 2010. The story is about fathers returning to their children at the day's end - birds, bugs, bunnies, fish - and finally, a sailor dad coming home from sea to his child.  The bold and colorful illustrations and simple, lyrical text make a sweet book for 2-5 year olds.

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