Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Happy Birthday!

The Writer's Almanac from American Public Media: "It's the birthday of Margaret Wise Brown, born in Brooklyn, New York (1910). She wanted to become a writer as a young woman, and she once took a creative writing class from Gertrude Stein. But she had a hard time coming up with story ideas, so she went into education. She got a job researching the way that children learn to use language and found that children love language with patterns of sound and rhythm. She also found that young children have a special attachment to words for objects they can see and touch, like shoes and socks and bowls and bathtubs."

And thus, Goodnight, Moon. But also check out Wait Till the Moon is Full, a lovely book with illustrations by Garth Williams. I am less fond of The Runaway Bunny, though Clement Hurd's illustrations are, as always, appealing: I just don't much care for those omnipotent-mama stories. Still, childhood would be poorer all around without Margaret Wise Brown.

9 comments:

Becca said...

The Runaway Bunny is one psycho book. Talk about smothering mother: wherever you go I will track you down and find you! Yikes!

Libby said...

I think so too, Becca, but you'd be surprised how many people don't agree. And The Giving Tree, which I find even creepier, is always a favorite among my college seniors. Also Love You Forever. "Momnipotence," the reviewer in the NYT called it recently. Ick.

Mrs. Coulter said...

I never liked the Giving Tree. And I have mixed feelings about Margaret Wise Brown. I don't ever recall reading Goodnight Moon as a child, but Lyra loves it (we got *FIVE* copies as baby gifts). She also loves the Big Red Barn. But I find the rhythm and the rhyme schemes a little odd. I can't quite put a finger on why, but I don't particularly like reading them.

Libby said...

You might try "Wait Till the Moon is Full," Mrs. C. It's longer than GN, M, and has a real story (sort of) to it. There are some slightly odd rhythms in it, too, but I actually like those.

And no, I don't think I grew up on GN, M, actually. But it's now ubiquitous.

Lilian said...

Oh, I adore Goodnight Moon I read it a lot to Kelvin when he was little and is was very soothing to him (and to me). I had never really thought much about The Runaway Bunny, but I guess you're right about it, and that's perhaps the unconcious reason why I've never read it often to the boys.

After I read a critical essay (I can't remember by whom, Ellen something) about Love You Forever, I couldn't even look at that book anymore and I never read it to the boys. Funny thing is, I bought a used copy of The Giving Tree translated into Portuguese and my son thinks the story is really beautiful - I had never even thought of it in the framework of the other "Momnimpotent" books - I always felt odd at the end, but I was reasoning that this odd feeling came mostly from an environmental point of view and looking at the tree as an actual tree and not a metaphor for a mother... Now you got me thinking.

Now I have to check Wait Till the Moon is Full. We also love the companion book to GM My World - she's definitely very "right on" about the kids' interest in everyday objects.

Claudia said...

How ironic. I was thinking about Runaway Bunny this morning decided it needed to be rewritten, "If you run away from me, I'll stalk you all over town." "If you stalk me all over town, I'll take out a restraining order on you." "If you take out..." Etc. I still might do it. Perhaps I somehow knew it was her birthday. She's written a lot of strange books - Goodnight Moon is probably the best written. Scuppers the Sailor Dog is truly bizarre but we all love it for that reason.

Library Mama said...

I also like Brown's The Important Book. Although I haven't used it as a readaloud with my own children, I've used it as a writing model when teaching primary students.

Libby said...

Claudia, I want to see that parody. I think it's brilliant. And, Lilian, I know my thing about The Giving Tree might be overkill, but really--at the end, she's a stump. And happy to be one! It makes me crazy.

Library Mama, I'll need to check The Important Book out. Sounds intriguing.

Claudia said...

I've also recently written some treatises on my blog about preschool, motherhood, and making the decision to have a second child. I don't think (no - I KNOW I haven't) I've captured everything I wanted to say on the issues (I keep thinking of other points I neglected to make) but it's a start. Curious to have your take on them, if you get a chance. They are entitled: "I am parent, hear me sigh," "the rant, part two," and "why I have two." Now, if I could only be paid to give my opinion....