Finally I have finished the work on Good Night Sleep Tight, a new book by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek. That is the new book ‘from the team that brought you Where is the Green Sheep?’ – hey, no pressure! The files are now winging their way off to the printers, and in a few months, there will be an actual book – a 3D version of what Mem wrote, what I drew and painted, and what the editor, the designer and I have been staring at on screens and in printouts for the last few months, trying to get everything right. And I think we did a pretty good job in our quest for perfection – thank you Clare and Deb! Easy enough for Mem (don’t tell her I said that) – this book is actually a re-release of a book she first published in 1988, so she didn’t have all that much to do, but all the pictures, layout and design are brand-new, full colour, from scratch. The book is about a babysitter who tells nursery rhymes at bedtime to the two children he is babysitting, starting with ‘Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t let the fleas bite’. (Wonder if I can use the word ‘eponymous’ here? I’ve always wanted to). There are lots of cameo characters from the various nursery rhymes – including the infamous snoring old man, a teddy bear running around the garden, ladies and gentlemen and farmers riding. Horses, I had to draw horses! Lots of them! I don’t think anyone anywhere likes drawing horses! Sheep – easy-peasy (any colour you like), no trouble with the little piggies, even cows are okay at a pinch, but horses, urghh. I have heard that ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ was originally ‘Where the Wild Horses Are’ until Maurice Sendak remembered that he couldn’t draw horses, so he changed the characters from ‘wild horses’ to ‘wild things’. It is a brave artist who goes where the amazingly talented Mr Sendak refused to tread, but I had little choice. Needless to say that was one of the last pages I drew – day after day I would head off to the studio announcing ‘Today I AM going to draw those horses’, and would manage to avoid it yet again. Lucky in a 32 page picture book there is plenty to be going on with.
Good Night Sleep Tight is being published by Scholastic, and it’s out in October this year. Expect fanfare! You’ll all get to check out the horses for yourself, along with the other familiar yet new characters.)
In the meantime I’ll press on with the current fanfare for my two new books that have just been released, the back-to-back double edition These are My Hands/These are My Feet, published by the National Library of Australia, and The Night Before Mother’s Day, written by Doug MacLeod and illustrated by me, published by Allen and Unwin. You can get all the details of the various Melbourne and Canberra launches on my calendar.