The Days Before Now: An Autobiographical Note

The Days Before Now: An Autobiographical Note

by Joan W. Blos, Thomas B. Allen

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Adapted from an autobiographical entry Brown (1910-1953) wrote for a 1951 edition of the Junior Book of Authors, this poetic reminiscence is marked by the author's trademark simplicity and visual imagery. Brown (see also Four Fur Feet, reviewed above) strings together memories of her early years in Brooklyn and her family's move to Long Island, concluding with notes on her adult life. Though pleasantly lyrical, the placid, stream-of-consciousness quality of her recollections may render this a bit ethereal for some youngsters. Of her own career, she writes: ``I have written more than sixty books, and I wish I didn't have ever to sign my name on the cover of a book; I wish I could write a story that would seem absolutely as true as Peter Rabbit and Snow White.'' A stunning book design sets the type against Allen's (In Coal Country) accomplished pastel and charcoal illustrations, which gracefully fill each spread. His effectively grainy art features hushed yet rich tones of gray, blue and brown, and neatly captures the period flavor. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-Originally published as an autobiographical sketch in The Junior Book of Authors (Wilson, 1951), Brown's eloquent memoir, written with all the vibrant simplicity for which she is justly noted, has been gently molded by Blos into picture-book form. From its opening words (``This is to say/that I was born in a brick city/on a wide street of cobblestones''), the book is alive with the essence of all that matters in childhood-people, places, pets (``I had..two squirrels-one bit me and dropped dead''), sights, smells, and sounds. In its closing pages, the narrative mood changes from wide-eyed, childlike wonder to the fulfilled contentment of the mature writer-with, here and there, a wistful note (``...I wish I didn't have ever/to sign my long name/on the cover of a book''). From a scene of the little girl dwarfed by ``giant'' aunts to one of the pensive author alone at her desk, Allen's pastel-and-charcoal illustrations are well tuned to the rhythm and spirit of the text, conveying all the nostalgia of a sepia photograph and illuminating Brown's words as if softened by the haze of distant memory. A remarkable portrait of a revered and gifted writer.-Marcia Hupp, Mamaroneck Public Library, NY
Carolyn Phelan
From an autobiographical entry written by the beloved author for "The Junior Book of Authors" (1951), Blos and Allen have created a lyrical picture book about Margaret Wise Brown. The text briefly describes her memories of childhood days in New York City and rural Long Island and her adult homes in New York City and coastal Maine, but the focus is on sensory details and the many animals Brown played with or kept as pets. Even more beguiling than Brown's musings are Allen's soft-focus pastel-and-charcoal drawings on colored papers that offer appealing glimpses of the bygone days. Whoever the intended audience may be, teachers will undoubtedly find the book useful in giving children a sense of the past and of the passage of a lifetime.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.30(w) x 10.40(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

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