Today is the birthday of children’s book author Margaret Wise Brown. Thanks, Kristin, for the heads up.
For me, one of the most joyous parts of being a mother is reading with my children. When the girl was old enough to sit on my lap and read with me (and as things go, that was pretty young), the world changed.
There are some books I grow tired of pretty quickly, but other books I’m happy to read over and over again. Among the latter are Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon and My World. I didn’t know them growing up, but Bubble and I acquired them early and read them together. I love the poetry, the way the words feel on my tongue, the repetitions, the cadences, the way they work with the pictures, the world of this little bunny boy, the illustrations, the things to discover as we read them again. I really could and did keep reading them again and again. Even now the girl and I will sometimes snuggle up and read them again (something we just now did because she walked into the office and saw the books in front of me).
The Runaway Bunny is also by Margaret Wise Brown. This book came to my attention in the HBO production of Margaret Edson’s devastatingly beautiful play Wit starring Emma Thompson. Thompson’s character, Vivian, is a professor of metaphysical poetry who has given her life to the academy and is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her mentor comes to visit her in the hospital and reads to her from The Runaway Bunny. The scene makes me cry, but that’s hardly surprising. Even just glancing through it right now so I could get the details right, I had to fight back tears. Anyway, I like The Runaway Bunny because of the play and because of the flow of the story as the bunny tries to run away and his mother finds a way to keep him near (crocus/gardener, bird/tree, sailboat/wind, etc.) and the illustrations, first in black and white with the text and then re-envisioned in color without words with bunny shaped trees and flowers and sailboats and so on. It’s a lovely little book.
The girl child and I noticed early on that many many children’s books are populated with rabbits. It’s not just Beatrix Potter and Margaret Wise Brown. We have a lot of less famous ones that have rabbit characters as well. I wonder why that is?