BOOK REVIEWS

The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2019-09-08 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings
ISBN:0062393448
LANGUAGE:English

"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..." said.

"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. " said.

"Who are authors? Why do they matter? Why are some books classics, and others are not permitted in the library? Why is reading a personal experience? In this book, written on a Pre-K level, Mac Barnett raises these important questions. The text is direct and vivid. There are no wasted words.

Newbery comments

I am in the text-only camp on Newbery books. I think Last Stop on Market Street should not have won. To me, this book is different because the text stands on its own and does something distinguished. It conveys ideas that I have not seen before in a way that I have not seen before. I would be okay with this book getting some Newbery recognition.
" said.

"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. " said.

""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 worlds."

Margaret Wise Brown was indeed a little strange, but truly a wonderful woman.

Anne Carroll Moore was somebody who did not like strange things in books for children. Thus she did not like Margaret's books. (She also didn't like Stuart Little! ... but that's another story.)

Despite the Patron Mother of the Children's Library World not liking Brown, somehow her books have perservered (and by somehow, I mean the magical fairy named Ursula Nordstrom.)

This darling picture book bio with its tidbits and anecdotes tells some very important facts about the person that was Margaret Wise Brown. Facts about her childhood and her pets (both important to biographies that are meant for children!) and how she lived her life etc.

(view spoiler)" said.

"It doesn't hold back and puts it out there that everyone has their quirks and faults, their ways of entertaining themselves and their idiosyncrasies that we can celebrate. But this is the kind of biography that should be celebrated because it does something different and we should respect authors that take those chances.

Barnett's second-person storytelling shares that there were many things to love about the author of Goodnight Moon (I dislike that book, but that's a personal issue!) even though many people thought it was weird that she made a book with real rabbit fur as the cover (plus many more factoids that he says he's sharing in the 42 pages of the biography). There's also the scenes in which the high-and-mighty children's librarian of the New York Public Library had way too much power in deciding what was a good picture book and therefore worthy of space on the shelves.

This is a curious and fascinating picture book biography.
" said.

"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
" said.

"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/...
" said.

December 2019 New Book:

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