On the Books, with Susan Taylor Brown
End-of-Summer Reading List at Our House

Sendak on "Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon"

"More than a finely etched, honest portrait of an artist, Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon is an exciting, fast-paced glimpse into the very beginnings of the golden age of children's book publishing in America. Leonard Marcus has cut through the smog of indifference and condescension that has bedeviled the lives and careers of everyone seriously involved in producing art for children, and has restored Brown to her rightful place as both pioneer and poet."

—Maurice Sendak

That's the blurb on the back of the hardback edition (Beacon Press, 1992) of Leonard Marcus's biography of Brown, which I'm currently reading. By the time the HarperCollins Perennial paperback came out in 1999, the last sentence in Sendak's quotation had been shortened to "Leonard Marcus has restored Brown to her rightful place as both pioneer and poet," with no mention of smog, indifference, or condescension, etc. The difference is interesting, isn't it?


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Oh that biography sounds great! I'll have to find it and I'll look forward to your further thoughts about it!

Rebecca, I really do like this biography. It's fascinating. Marcus does a fine job of explaining the era---the "golden age." Margaret Wise Brown was right there in the center of things as children's book publishing took off, and, in addition to being an author, was involved in many behind-the-scenes endeavors, like getting Gertrude Stein to write a book for kids.

I've been thinking about spending my next sabbatical week reading Leonard Marcus books. I haven't read *any*, and they all sound so interesting. Speaking of which, it's probably about time to *schedule* my next sabbatical....

Oh but I love that and wish they had left it! I love it when Sendak goes on about that. He's really onto something. I like to ask authors and illustrators about that in interviews. Some like to say the condescension has gone away, but dang, I still see it and hear it -- at least with those of us who decide to work with children and literature in our lives. (Or, really, just even children minus literature).

Adrienne, start with Dear Genius: The letters of Ursula Nordstrom, if you haven't read that one already. (LM edited it.) I just love books of letters, and Nordstrom was funny.

Jules, have you read this book? It's so great. I finished it today. Now I have to go check out all the Margaret Wise Brown books at the library.

And, yeah, there is much to what Sendak was saying.

Loved that book! I need to buy my own copy. Have you read Marcus's newest, Susan?

Stephany, I think I picked it up because of reading about the book at your blog! So, thanks. I loved MWB: Awakened by the Moon, too. I have not read the new Marcus, but adored Dear Genius. Now I'd like to pick up the one about the Golden Books; before reading this biography, I wasn't that interested. But Marcus is so good on context, with out being dry at all, that I changed my mind.

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