Margaret Wise Brown

Here’s an interesting Slate article about Goodnight Moon author Margaret Wise Brown, “Do Childish People Write Better Children’s Books?” by Katie Roiphe.

Re. Roiphe’s question, I’d have to read more about Brown to find out how she did it*, but it seems to me that being truly childish would help in the inspiration and writing part, but the attendant lack of discipline and application would make financial/career success  kind of unlikely.

Especially today. The market for children’s content is massive, as Print and Media toil in service of the great god Merchandising. As the dollars flow in, writing for children is no longer seen as a less-than-serious pursuit. Lucre leads to respect, et voilà! Suddenly everyone has an idea for a picture book or fantasy series. This intense competition makes it less likely that any but the most driven and ambitious (ie. least child-like) might actually succeed in having a children’s book published.

At any rate, Ms. Brown was a real character – read the article. Despite her bunny books she enjoyed rabbit hunting, and once told a Life reporter:

Well, I don’t especially like children, either. At least not as a group. I won’t let anybody get away with anything just because he is little.

– Margaret Wise Brown


* Another interesting question would be: how do we, as adults, define “childishness”? (Flighty? Selfish? Innocent? Silly?) Another can of worms for another day…


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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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