Have you ever read any children’s books by Margaret Wise Brown? She wrote delightful books such as Goodnight, Moon, The Sleepy Book, and Mister Dog, The Dog Who Belonged to Himself. Miss Brown, who never had any children of her own, lived from 1910 to 1952 and wrote hundreds of story books for children. Decades after she died, pages upon pages of stories were discovered-yellowed and dusty with rusted paperclips-in a trunk that had belonged to Miss Brown.
Among these pages was the story called The Moon Shines Down. Publisher Laura Minchew took the rediscovered manuscript and turned it into a brand new book with illustrations by Linda Bleck.
Since I grew up reading Margaret Wise Brown’s stories-namely The Sleepy Book and Mister Dog (about Crispin’s Crispian), both illustrated by Garth Williams-I was thrilled to learn that a new Margaret Wise Brown story had been published.
I opened the book and read the first few lines…
The Moon shines down and sheds its beams
On a house with a stork where a Dutch boy dreams
Of tulip fields by quiet streams
In his flat Dutch Land of cheese and creams.
Already I could hear in my mind the familiar cadence and rhythm of Miss Brown’s stories. Most of the book follows the same rhythm with only two or three ‘sticky’ spots that I had to reread in order to make them fit with the rest of the tone. I can only assume that these are verses Ms. Minchew added. Despite the initial trickiness, the added verses still fit very well with the story and tone of Miss Brown’s classic style, and I’m impressed with Ms. Minchew’s efforts to make the entire story completely Margaret.
The illustrations are full colored, with vibrant backgrounds and lively children in the foreground. One two-page spread shows a mother kissing her baby goodnight in a window while a group of children jump rope in the street below. French vineyards stretch out behind, all green and purple, with a huge yellow moon suspended above. While I’m very partial to drawings by Garth Williams (who not only illustrated books for Miss Brown but also illustrated the nine Little House books for Laura Ingalls Wilder before they were rudely hijacked by Roger Lea McBride and a host of others who think that new and different is better than simple and true…but, ahem, that’s another post), Linda Bleck’s illustrations for The Moon Shines Down are charming and capture the same feeling that Mr. Williams’ drawings did in Miss Brown’s earlier books.
Even if you’ve never read anything by Margaret Wise Brown, this book will be a treasured addition to your little one’s collection. The story travels around the world, from Switzerland to the Far East to Zimbabwe to “my own country,” telling everyone good night. The illustrations show a little koala in a sailboat (or walking or wearing a sombrero, depending on his current location!) visiting each of these places and watching the children there.
The suggested price on this hardcover book of more than three dozen pages is $16.99 and it’s available at that price from the publisher’s website: Thomas Nelson
It can be purchased from Christian Book Distributors for only $11.99, however!
This is one of those books that your family will treasure for a lifetime. Your children will some day read it to your grandchildren, just like I read the same copy of The Sleepy Book to my boys that my mom read to me when I was a little girl.
© 2008 – 2009, Cindy. All rights reserved.