Amy Gary’s biography “In the Great Green Room” tells the true story of “Good Night Moon” author Margaret Wise Brown, a flamboyant personality whose works are still read and loved by millions.

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“In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown”

by Amy Gary

Flatiron, 305 pp., $26.99

During her lifetime, Margaret Wise Brown was dubbed “the laureate of the nursery.” Today, she remains among the most beloved children’s authors of all time. In her relatively brief 15-year career, Brown wrote more than 100 books, including the classic bedtime stories “Goodnight Moon” and “The Runaway Bunny.”

Since its 1947 publication, “Goodnight Moon” has sold millions of copies and remains a staple in libraries and homes around the world.

Brown’s turbulent personal life, however, was hardly the stuff of a children’s book. Born into wealth and privilege in New York in 1910, Brown was beautiful, athletic, adventurous and restive. She had relationships with men and a woman. In March 1952, it appeared Brown finally had found love when she met the much-younger James Stillman Rockefeller Jr. They made plans to marry later that year, but the union never occurred.

Brown died suddenly, at 42, when she was recovering from emergency surgery in France. She kicked up her leg to show doctors how much better she felt, loosening a blood clot that killed her almost instantly.

Amy Gary’s new biography brings renewed attention to the contrast between Brown’s private life and her status as a celebrated children’s author. Drawing on personal letters and diaries, she draws a colorful — if oddly speculative — portrait.

Gary highlights Brown’s pioneering role as a picture-book author as well as her work with major children’s book writers and illustrators such as Garth Williams (“The Little Fur Family”), and Clement Hurd (“Goodnight Moon” and “The Runaway Bunny.”)

We learn of Brown’s natural athleticism — she once won the national title of the fastest woman in the sport of beagling, where humans run with the hounds. Gary also writes of Brown’s extravagant spending, such as the time she used her first payment as an author to purchase a street cart full of flowers to decorate her apartment in celebration of her burgeoning literary career.

Gary gives particular attention to Brown’s long-running affairs with two people who repeatedly hurt her. One was a serial womanizer named William Gaston; the other was one of Gaston’s sometime lovers, Michael Strange (born Blanche Oelrichs, a former wife of John Barrymore), a mediocre actress and poet who dismissed Brown’s literary success because she wrote for children.

This was especially cruel, as throughout her life, Brown aspired to write for adults.

Clearly Gary has plenty of material with which to fashion a page-turner of a biography. Yet there’s a troubling lack of attribution to many of Gary’s observations. Here, for example, is a passage about Brown sitting alone in the British countryside: “As the English mist swept around her, she reconsidered. The problem wasn’t her style of writing, she realized; it was that she couldn’t think up anything of importance to write about.”

This novelistic style — a stark contrast to the tone of Leonard Marcus’s 1992 biography, “Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon” — is sometimes distracting and puzzling.

Still, as we prepare to celebrate the 75th anniversary of “The Runaway Bunny” and get a first peek at Brown’s never-before-published picture book “North, South, East, West” later this month, it is gratifying to be reminded again about what a fascinating woman and a gifted writer Margaret Brown was.