Two Little Gardeners – 1951 children’s book
Written by Margaret Wise Brown and Edith Thacher Hurd. Pictures by Gertrude Elliott. 1951.
Famous children’s author Margaret Wise Brown (1910 – 1952). Author of children’s classics Good Night Moon (1947) and The Runaway Bunny (1942).
From her biography:
Her social circle included the famous and royalty. She dated the then Prince of Spain, Juan Carlos, and was friends with John Barrymore and his one of wives, Michael Strange. She was reputed to have had a long term affair with a prominent New York attorney and with Michael Strang. Her Vinylhaven, Maine retreat was purchased to be near the attorney, but it became legendary because of Margaret’s touches of hospitality and humor.
Since there was no electricity on the property, her well served as a refrigerator. Butter, milk and other perishables could be had simply by pulling up the appropriately labled rope. She stored wine in the streams, strategically placing bottles to refresh her guests on hikes around the property.
She paid a local fisherman to keep her lobster traps full, thereby impressing her visitors with the ease at which dinner could be had. She called this retreat The Only House. From one of the rooms you could see the sea at any angle, since she adhered mirrors around all of the walls to reflect the sparkling sea that lay just beyond a flower-filled meadow.
The Only House wasn’t her only writing refuge. When walking around the streets of New York, Margaret came upon a tiny four-room house, nestled between skyscrapers and warehouses. She promptly rented the home and christened it Cobble Court, giving homage to the stone entryway. Since this retreat also had no utilities, she draped the floors, furniture and walls with fur and kept fires burning in the winter. She often welcomed guests to this cozy den and supplied a servant with the accommodations who kept the brass brightly polished and food within arm’s reach.
Her life as a children’s best-selling author was the featured in an amusing Life magazine article, which captured the whimsical side of Brownie. Her penchant for practical jokes included tying cherries or lemons to a potted tree to fool cityfolk into thinking she had a unusually skillful green thumb. Her circle of friends started The Bird Brain Society. Any member, upon inspiration, could declare a day to be Christmas, and all the members would gather to celebrate. Perhaps the quote that most accurately depicted the whimsical attitude Margaret injected into her life was her response to a friend who had asked for the time. “What time would you like it to be?” Brownie replied.
And there are more pictures-pages in the book. Following the text:
And they ate and they ate and they ate and they ate,
Cabbage and carrots and cauliflower
Beets and beans and long ears of corn,
Until they were full.
But they couldn’t eat it all.
So they put up some things in cans and jars and bottles
and stored them away on the shelves.
The onions were dried and hung in big bunches.
The carrots were stored in big tubs.
There was a bin for potatoes and a bin for pumpkins
and a high dry shelf for squash.
Then the little gardeners rested.
And they sang a little song.