I’ll admit, I just didn’t get Goodnight Moon on the first reading. The words were clunky. The colors unsubtle. Just what was the plot/message/moral?
But after a few dozen readings to my first daughter (we were still building our kids book collection, so there wasn’t much to choose from), I found the poetry of the words, the humor of the little mouse, the “plot.” I noticed the effort in the drawings — the changing light, the movement around the room, that funny mouse. I have recited “Goodnight Moon” hundreds of times to all three of my kids — sometimes in Spanish, sometimes without even holding the book. It’s one of the few books I’ll save as we clear out the detritus of babyhood. I’ll always have a soft spot for Margaret Wise Brown, who also wrote Runaway Bunny and dozens of other children’s books.
So it’s kind of exciting to learn that five new titles from Margaret Wise Brown are being released by Parragon Books. (While a parody of her most famous work is also making the rounds!)
The first two of these “lost” titles, Count to 10 With A Mouse and Goodnight Little One, are now available. Three more titles, Around the World We Go, The Sleepy Bears, and Sleep Little Child, will set for release this August.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Brown’s unexpected death at 42. Brown’s known works are classics now, but she was something of a revolutionary writer back in the day. Instead of focusing on fantasy and fairy tales, she wrote about the things kids encounter in their daily lives. According to a Parragon Books press release about the new titles, “[Brown] spent time in children’s classrooms, observing where children’s hands, eyes, and attention were drawn to words on the page, and her unique and childlike perspective was often credited in her success.”
She also laid the groundwork for professionalism among children’s book authors and illustrators. “She fought for proper author and illustrator royalties, and insisted her artists receive the same royalty as she did, and worked to create affordable books to be available for all children.”
Brown enjoyed the financial pay-off of writing such popular and beloved books, according to the Parragon Books statement. “After a lifetime spending her royalty statements on extravagant celebrations and making friends wherever she went, Brown died suddenly of an embolism– reportedly just moments after kicking up her legs and doing the can-can when her doctor asked how she was feeling.”