The Important Book, by Margaret Wise Brown

Goodnight Moon (1947) is Margaret Wise Brown's most famous book. It's terrific, without a doubt. It entertained my kids several dozen times when they were little. But I won't shed a tear if I never read it again. Brown's less-well known children's book, The Important Book, is her magnum opus. Goodnight Moon has pleasant rhymes, but The Important Book (1949) is true poetry about perceiving the world around us, and my wife and I both felt moved whenever we read it to our kids.

The title page of the book has a tiny image of a book and an illustration of a cricket:

The important thing

about a cricket is

that it is black.

It chirps,

it hops,

it jumps,

and sings all through the summer night.

But the important thing

about a cricket is

that it is black.

The other pages identify the important things about daisies, glass, water, shoes, spoons, and other common items, celebrating the mystery in the ordinary. Leonard Weisgard's color illustrations are rendered with a kind of quiet surrealism that increases the impact of Brown's writing.

The Important Book rekindles the sense of wonder we were born with.

The Important Book