“In the great green room,” begins one of the most memorable books ever written for children. During a time when children’s books centered upon the unrealistic fairy tales that were meant to distract and teach a lesson, Margaret Wise Brown sought to create stories about things important to children, things they could relate to.
Margaret was one of the first writers to go out into the world and ask the readers of children’s literature, children, what they wanted to read about. Margaret had children write her notes on what they wanted to read, she formed professional partnerships with children to help create better books for them. She even stayed close friends with one of these children and after her death he received royalties from her works, including the infamous Goodnight Moon.
Margaret wrote during a time when writers and artists were paid very little, and usually not equally. Margaret was one of very few writers to argue for her artists to receive the same pay rate that she was getting. She was a very beloved and very eccentric individual. She would often sell a book to get something she really wanted like a fur coat, plane ticket, or house. A perfect example of this was her favorite house and writing retreat, The Only House.
This house was as eccentric as its owner, and was eccentrically decorated. One room allowed you to see the ocean from any angle since it was covered in mirrors, and since there was no electricity or refrigeration she was known to keep her gardens and ponds filled with hidden pockets of food and drink. The pond would keep the drinks cold and at hand when a guest walked by.
Although Margaret’s books were well-known her name was very rarely recognized. She did not take offense at this but actually reveled in it. It was her opinion the book should speak for itself and standout, not the author.
Unfortunately Margaret’s life was cut short when she suddenly died from appendicitis at the age of 42 in 1952. While she may have passed on, her amazing stories have become ever more popular and have stayed the test of time. She was the author of other children’s books classics like The Runaway Bunny, My World and Big Red Barn.
To this day children all over the world still end their days in the great green room.