Toddler bed wars inspires weary bestseller

IT’S A must for the baby shower gift list, but not the kind of publication the mother-in-law is likely to read to her grandchildren.

Go the F**k to Sleep, which is at the top of Amazon.com’s pre-order bestseller list, contains the sort of sentiment relevant to any parent for whom getting the kids to bed is a challenge up there with scaling Everest.

Conceived by a dad desperate to truncate the spun-out routines of bedtime, it spells out what many a frazzled parent has longed to shout at the little one, but instead bit his or her tongue and read the tenth bedtime story, or fifth cup of water or fourth visit to the bathroom or whatever else is dreamt up to in order to prolong the ordeal.

Born of a fear that his best years would be spent in the nightly battleground of his two-year-old daughter’s bedroom, American author Adam Mansbach told Facebook followers, in jest: “Look out for my new book, Go the F**k to Sleep, out next year.” However, the reaction was such that events overtook what started out as a throwaway quip, and the end result is a title as colourful as the book’s watercolour illustrations.

Each page contains a rhyme typical of the fare found in a children’s library but with a sting in the tail.

For example: “The eagles who soar through the sky are at rest/ And the creatures who crawl, run and creep./ I know you’re not thirsty. That’s bullshit. Stop lying./ Lie the f**k down, my darling, and sleep.”

Probably not appropriate for anywhere other than the adult bookshelf, (next to ‘Spilled Milk Means You’re Sleeping in the Shed’?), the 32-pager from a minor Brooklyn publisher has sold more than 100,000 copies in pre-orders since surfacing a month ago. After bootleg copies leaked, Akashic Books moved up publication just in time for the June deadline of Father’s Day. Film rights have also been optioned by Fox 2000, and Canongate has snapped up British rights to the title.

“For me and many parents, the Gina Ford sleep routine never quite worked,” Canongate editor Francis Bickmore, a father of two, said. “Bedtimes are precious but occasionally precarious times and I wish someone had given me this hilarious book sooner. It’s an essential gift for any parent you know who lives in the real world.”

Mansbach said initially the audience was just himself and his wife but that the reaction prompted him to publish.

“It captures the frustration of being in a room with a kid and feeling like you may actually never leave that room again,” he said.


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