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.

Continue reading

Chloe and the Lion

ChloeandtheLionThe author begins by presenting us with his character, Chloe, and asks the illustrator to menace her with a lion. The illustrator thinks it should be a dragon, which starts the quarrel. The illustrator torments the author sufficiently that the author fires him, and, in fact the lion the second illustrator creates eats him. Unfortunately, the second illustrator is really bad and finally Chloe and the author agree that they need to apologize to our first illustrator. They phone him, inside the lion’s stomach, and eventually he, the author, and Chloe become reunited.

Mac Barnett, Disney Hyperion Press, ©2012, 978-14231-1334-8

The Trailer

There is a great trailer that goes with the book, consisting of the further argument of the author and illustrator. I can’t decide which to do first with the students—they’re both so great. I particularly love the part where the illustrator is saying, “What is a book without the illustrator—a haiku. I’ve seen more writing on a t-shirt. That’s why they call it a ‘picture book’.”

Duck Amuck

This may not be the most academic activity but there is also a YouTube of the Looney Toons cartoon, Duck Amuck in which the character Daffy Duck attempts to play a part in the cartoon only to be erased, put in the wrong scene, coloured, blown up, etc. by the artist—who turns out to be Donald Duck. Discuss similarities and differences with the students.

For 11 creative writing ideas, click Chloe and the Lion to download.