Today’s Google Doodle (the 14th in the United States this year, and the 14th honoring a man) honors Robert, or Bob, Moog, born May 23, 1934, a pioneer of electronic music who invented a synthesizer now known as the Moog synthesizer. The Doodle today is actually interactive, and allows visitors to Google’s homepage to “play” the synthesizer.
Here on Speaking Up, I’ll highlight a woman whose work is certainly beloved enough to earn her a Doodle: Margaret Wise Brown, born May 23, 1910, author of both The Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon. Can’t you see the Doodle now?
Brown was a student of both literature and art, and was a teacher at an experimental nursery school in New York City when she started to write books for children. Her work there inspired her to write stories about the real lives, experiences, and concerns of children, rather than fairy tales. During her career she wrote books that won the Caldecott Honor and the Caldecott Medal in her collaboration with illustrator Leonard Weisgard. Brown died when she was just 42 years old, and left behind over 70 unpublished works, some of which have now been posthumously released. Additionally, Brown was a great champion of the “Golden Books” series published by Simon & Schuster, a project that involved her mentor, Lucy Sprague Mitchell, at the Bank Street Nursery School. These books were manufactured more cheaply so that they could be accessible to a larger number of children, which drew criticism from the publishing world, but Brown was adamant in her belief that this effort was of great value to children.
Brown was a prolific writer, though her greatest commercial success, by far, came with Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny. The former has now sold more than 4 million copies worldwide, is one of the best-selling children’s books in history, and has been translated into French, Spanish, Hebrew, Swedish, Korean and Hmong. Likewise, The Runaway Bunny is so popular it has never been out of print since it was first released in 1942.
Below (or at this link) you can listen to a performance of “The Runaway Bunny,” a concerto composed by Glen Roven and performed by the London Philharmonic with Ittai Shapira as violinist, along with a reading of the story by Brooke Shields.