The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown

It’s a simple biography of Margaret Wise Brown that tells of the life of one of the greatest children’s book writers ever. There are 42 pages, simple sentences, just a few examples, but what a lovely tribute to her.

Mac Barnett, ©2019, Harper Collins, ISBN 978-0-06-239344-9

The Important Book

One of Margaret Wise Brown’s out popular books was The Important Book. The video below is a reading of The Important Book by Gary Eisenberg. Students will instantly understand that the pattern of the book itself, The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown, is totally an homage to her original book. You would have to know her books in order to recognize the homage.

The pattern is:

  1. The Important thing about…
  2. 5 facts about it…
  3. Then repeat, but the Important thing about the…

This is potentially a really successful writing pattern for your students. Use topics from the classroom, or gym equipment, or art materials, or positions on a team, anything that 5 things can be said about. The students construct a list of 5 items for their Important Book—humour matters if possible—and then write. The finished book will seem really easy for them to write, but it has a structure and will result in 7 sentences for each item, 5 items in total—35 sentences in total—and they’ll have a good time doing it. Below are a couple examples:

The important thing about the whiteboard is that it is white. It is in front of the room. It is written on with erasable pens—never with permanent pens unless you want the custodian to be angry. It contains important information about what we are doing. It can get very messy. It isn’t used very often any more. But the important thing about a whiteboard is that it is white.

The important thing about a pitcher is that he throws the ball. It has to be a round white official baseball. He throws in the direction of the home plate. The ball may be hit by the hitter and very rarely can be caught by the pitcher. If the hitter doesn’t swing, or swings and misses, it is caught by the catcher. The catcher throws it back to the pitcher who catches it. But the important thing about a pitcher is that he throws the ball.

Everything I Needed to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book

This 32 page picture book has a quote from a Little Golden Book and a copy of the page it is on, giving advice on how to live life. It’s fun to read, and made me nostalgic for books from my childhood. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, there are 6 pages from Margaret Wise Brown’s books.

“The Everything I Needed to Know” books originated with All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things by Robert Fulghum.

How about “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned at (insert name of your school)” as an inspiration for writing?

Mac Barnett: Author

Mac Barnett is also the author of Chloe and the Lion, a post-modern story of what can go wrong when an author and illustrator quarrel over the direction of the story—and then the characters get involved as well.

Another book of Mac Barnett’s that I like is How This Book Was Made. It’s the story of the desperate actor who has to wait and wait while his book is edited, revised proofread, illustrated, sent round the world to be printed, etc. It’s a clear summary, in hyperbole, of the publishing process.

For more about Mac Barnett, please visit his website.

For 9 creative writing ideas, click The Important Thing Margaret Wise Brown to download.


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