Give Yourself to the Rain (Poems for the Very Young)

Overview

Margaret Wise Brown once observed, "To write well for children, one must love the things that children love." And write well for children she did — with a deep love for and a keen perception of all things great and small in the world around us.

Collected here for the first time are twenty-four of Margaret Wise Brown's children's poems, which range in subject from jig-dancing pigs and the wild sound of the wind to the colors of a summer day and ...

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Overview

Margaret Wise Brown once observed, "To write well for children, one must love the things that children love." And write well for children she did — with a deep love for and a keen perception of all things great and small in the world around us.

Collected here for the first time are twenty-four of Margaret Wise Brown's children's poems, which range in subject from jig-dancing pigs and the wild sound of the wind to the colors of a summer day and the joy of giving oneself to the rain.

With a foreword by noted children's literature scholar and Brown biographer Leonard S. Marcus, and illustrated with vibrant and sensitive paintings by Teri L. Weidner, Give Yourself to the Rain is a precious gift to be shared among children and adults everywhere.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Although many of the previously unpublished poems in this posthumous collection demonstrate the lyricism of Brown's best work, others seem clunky, as if the poems needed further polishing to find the quiet rhythms and grace of language hidden inside. Marcus, Brown's biographer, provides an eloquent foreword and relates how Brown scribbled poems on the backs of envelopes, but was a "consummate craftsperson [who] might fiddle with a single line for years." Some verses in this padded volume could have used a bit more fiddling. On the other hand, Brown consistently conveys universal childhood experiences in clear language without complexity. She describes a first snowstorm as "White/ And quiet in the night," and dandelions as "Bright yellow/ Constellations/ Brave little lions/ Suns in the grass." The poems vary from the impish surprise of "Pussycat and the Pumpkin" to the wistful longing in "The Sound of the Wind Is a Wild Sound" to the raucous singsong sounds of "Pig Jig." Even with some static watercolor and pencil illustrations, Weidner (Jeremy: The Tale of an Honest Bunny) for the most part utilizes subtle textures and sensitively reflects the tone of the poems. While the painting for "In the Sugar Egg" does not quite match details in the poem, for instance, the illustration accompanying "Colors" interweaves selective images from the text to make a seek-and-find landscape of flowers and insects. A somewhat disappointing but nonetheless welcome collection for fans of Brown's Goodnight Moon. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Topics to which children can relate¾seasons, day and night, holidays, boats, and the woods¾comprise these twenty-four never-before-published poems. They will elicit a variety of emotions from children, whether it is the happy feeling of the jaunty "Pig Jig," the nostalgia of "Remember and Never Forget," the awe of "In the Sugar Egg" or the soothing feeling of "Sleepy, Creepy Squirrel." "I Like Apples" is the perfect poem for teachers who do a unit about this fruit in the autumn. In his Foreword, Leonard S. Marcus discusses why Brown is so successful in reaching children through her writing. Playful and creative, these poems have a thoughtful depth to them that is not always found in poetry for young children. Watercolor and colored pencil imbue the illustrations with soft, warm tones. Weidner has done an excellent job of presenting the right amount of whimsy or realism as befits each poem. 2002, Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, $16.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-Beautiful paintings enhance this collection by one of America's best-known picture-book authors. Many of the poems are lovely, with a memorable and graceful simplicity. "Remember and never forget/Remember this/Your first snowstorm/White/ And quiet in the night/And/Your first swim/ The water was wet/And soft around you/ And/The first hot day/When water came out of your skin/And rolled down you/You were so hot." Not all the selections are successful, though. Some read more like fragments or drafts, interesting yet not quite pulled together. Lines like, "Where the shining beetle traffics pass/Near the roots of the long green grass" don't quite have the rhythm or economy of Brown's best works. Weidner's watercolors are touched with pastel and seem to have an inner glow. Her landscapes and animals are more lifelike than some of her people, but she is a gifted illustrator whose sweet and lyrical work matches the best poems here. Considering the pictures, the author's reputation, and the quality of much of the writing, this book should find a home in most good-sized collections.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The subtitle is unfairly limiting; among these 24 previously unpublished poems are deceptively simple lyrics that will engage readers of any age: "Brace nothing against it / Safe in your bed / Listen / And give yourself to the rain. . . ." Though Brown gazes into a jack-o'-lantern's eyes, and later the cozy confines of a sugar egg, for the most part she looks outward to the natural world, and so does Weidner (Jeremy: The Tale of an Honest Bunny, 2000, etc.) with outdoorsy scenes of children and familiar animals in grassy settings, depicted with subdued colors and soft, flowing lines. There are signs that some poems were still works in progress when the poet died in 1952; the title poem, for instance, ends with a weak line, and "Colors" starts out strongly-"Shout Red Sing Blue Laugh Green / Smile Yellow Whoa Black . . . "-then trails off. Still, her sharp powers of observation, her ability to evoke the intensity of childhood experience, her ear for rhythm and wordplay, come through full-strength. Renowned children's literature scholar Leonard S. Marcus adds a consciousness-raising introduction for parents/adults who haven't already cottoned to Brown's unique voice and talents. (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689833441
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 3/1/2002
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Wise Brown's contribution to children's literature is legendary. Her many popular titles include Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny and The Little Fur Family and she was one of the best-selling children's writers of all time.

Biography

When Margaret Wise Brown began to write for young children, most picture books were written by illustrators, whose training and talents lay mainly in the visual arts. Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon, was the first picture-book author to achieve recognition as a writer, and the first, according to historian Barbara Bader, "to make the writing of picture books an art."

After graduating college in 1932, Brown's first ambition was to write literature for adults; but when she entered a program for student teachers in New York, she was thrilled by the experience of working with young children, and inspired by the program's progressive leader, the education reformer Lucy Sprague Mitchell. Mitchell held that stories for very young children should be grounded in "the here and now" rather than nonsense or fantasy. For children aged two to five, she thought, real experience was magical enough without embellishments.

Few children's authors had attempted to write specifically for so young an audience, but Brown quickly proved herself gifted at the task. She was appointed editor of a new publishing firm devoted to children's books, where she cultivated promising new writers and illustrators, helped develop innovations like the board book, and became, as her biographer Leonard S. Marcus notes, "one of the central figures of a period now considered the golden age of the American picture book."

Though Brown was intensely interested in modernist writers like Gertrude Stein (whom she persuaded to write a children's book, The World Is Round), it was a medieval ballad that provided the inspiration for The Runaway Bunny (1942), illustrated by Clement Hurd. The Runaway Bunny was Brown's first departure from the here-and-now style of writing, and became one of her most popular books.

Goodnight Moon, another collaboration with Hurd, appeared in 1947. The story of a little rabbit's bedtime ritual, its rhythmic litany of familiar objects placed it somewhere between the nursery rhyme and the here-and-now story. At first it was only moderately successful, but its popularity gradually climbed, and by 2000, it was among the top 40 best-selling children's books of all time.

The postwar baby boom helped propel sales of Brown's many picture books, including Two Little Trains (1949) and The Important Book (1949). After the author died in 1952, at the age of 42, many of her unpublished manuscripts were illustrated and made into books, but Brown remains best known for Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny.

More people recognize those titles than recognize the name of their author, but Margaret Wise Brown wouldn't have minded. "It didn't seem important that anyone wrote them," she once said of the books she read as a child. "And it still doesn't seem important. I wish I didn't have ever to sign my long name on the cover of a book and I wish I could write a story that would seem absolutely true to the child who hears it and to myself." For millions of children who have settled down to hear her stories, she did just that.

Good To Know

When Goodnight Moon first appeared, the New York Public Library declined to buy it (an internal reviewer dismissed it as too sentimental). The book sold fairly well until 1953, when sales began to climb, perhaps because of word-of-mouth recommendations by parents. More than 4 million copies have now been sold. The New York Public Library finally placed its first order for the book in 1973.

If you look closely at the bookshelves illustrated in Goodnight Moon, you'll see that one of the little rabbit's books is The Runaway Bunny. One of three framed pictures on the walls shows a scene from the same book.

Brown's death was a stunning and sad surprise. The author had had an emergency appendectomy in France while on a book tour, which was successful; but when she did a can-can kick days later to demonstrate her good health to her doctor, it caused a fatal embolism.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Golden MacDonald, Juniper Sage, Timothy Hay
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 23, 1910
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, N.Y.
    1. Date of Death:
      November 13, 1952
    2. Place of Death:
      Nice, France

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