May 23, 2013


By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Celebrate today, May 23rd, with me and say a "Happy Birthday" to a truly gifted author of;
“I like dogs
Big dogs
Little dogs
Fat dogs
Doggy dogs
Old dogs
Puppy dogs
I like dogs
A dog that is barking over the hill
A dog that is dreaming very still
A dog that is running wherever he will...I like dogs.” 
― Margaret Wise Brown, "The Friendly Book"

As a dog lover I love this prose. The story goes that Margaret had to teach illustrators to draw the way a child see things. She gave two puppies to an illustrator. He painted several pictures one day and then fell asleep. He discovered the pictures he painted were blank. This is the part of the story I can identify with, the "model" puppies had licked all the paint off the artist's paper. Back to the drawing board.

Millions of children worldwide still have their childhoods shaped by her musical-like qualities of lyrical overtly simplistic prose. Born in 1910, she died tragically young in 1952 from an embolism, following a surgery. Her debut book, "When the Wind Blew" was published in 1937. Thankfully, she left hundreds of unpublished manuscripts at the time of her death. She wrote all the time and dreamed many of her classic stories. Upon awaking, she would write them down in the morning before she forgot them.

She said of writing, “One can but hope to make a child laugh or feel clear and happy-headed as he follows the simple rhythm to its logical end. It can jog him with the unexpected and comfort him with the familiar, lift him for a few minutes from his own problems of shoelaces that won’t tie, and busy parents and mysterious clock time, into the world of a bug or a bear or a bee or a boy living in the timeless world of a story.” 

Margaret Wise Brown was an insightful author ahead of her time. So many of her books have a gentle pattern of rhythm to them or repeat a word pattern. Her writing brilliance, places a hard word into the story because she intended for children to think harder and expand their critical thinking while they read. Her genius coupled with delightful and unique illustrations shine through on every wonderful page.

Did you know that she crafted a beautiful birthday book? "The Golden Birthday Book" is a delightful combination of Margaret Wise Brown’s writing and Leonard Weisgard’s illustrations. These are pages from my copy of the book with some of her magical words.Take a page from her happy little book and celebrate by being your "own true rabbit". You too, can write a story to influence children and adults for centuries to come. 

Happy 103rd Birthday, Margaret Wise Brown! You continue to make a difference, even in the lives of children and adults in the twenty-first century.

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