January 20, 2013
Time for Bed
Illustrated by Jane Dyer
I was preparing a workshop one night for junior primary (lower elementary) teachers. My aim was to demonstrate ‘group writing’. I thought if I could find two good rhyming lines to start with then the teachers and I could finish the story together, much as the teachers might, with their own children in class. So I came up with:
‘It’s time for bed, little mouse, little mouse,
Darkness is falling all over the house.’
I liked it a lot, but wondered how difficult it would be to finish such a text. Would the teachers and I be able to do it? I decided to try to finish it myself to see how hard it would be. I was so pleased with the first draft that realized that I had probably written a book in about an hour. Incredible! Unheard of!
I bailed up my husband, who was reading, and said: ’I think I’ve written a book!’
‘I thought you were preparing a workshop,’ he said.
‘I was!’ I said. ‘And I’ve written a book!’
I read it to him and he was crazy about it (He isn’t always crazy about my first drafts.) I faxed it—yes, those were the days!—to my American editor, Allyn Johnston, at Harcourt Brace & Co, who had been asking for such a book. Then I re-read it and realized I had written silly things like:
‘It’s time for bed, little fish, little fish,
so cross your fingers and make a wish.’
As if fish had fingers! Also the ‘time for bed’ and ‘time to sleep’ lines were haphazard so I made the first half of the book ‘time for bed’ and the second half ‘time to sleep’. In the end, frankly, I was inordinately thrilled with the hypnotic dreamy rhythm of it. So was my editor. Neither she nor I could believe I’d written it so fast. The book was accepted immediately and I was incredibly fortunate that the well-known, brilliant American illustrator, Jane Dyer, had a window of time right then. She went to work straight away and produced the most perfect, endearing pictures for it. The rest is history.