cover image The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown

The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown

Mac Barnett, illus. by Sarah Jacoby. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-06-239344-9

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. [em](May) [/em]