‘Go the F— to Sleep’ author still lacks magic bedtime formula

Laura Donovan Contributor
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Bestselling writer Adam Mansbach, who wrote the hit satirical bedtime story “Go the F— to Sleep,” still hasn’t discovered the trick to getting children to sleep.

“There’s never any one thing that works,” Mansbach told The Daily Caller, about his profanity-laced parody nursery rhyme book that orders kids to hit the hay. “If there was, you would just do that right away.”

Mansbach, who will visit P.J. Clarke’s in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday as part of his book tour, told TheDC he was inspired, after his little girl refused to go to bed one night, to write a parody bedtime story about kids doing all they can to stay awake.

That night the California Book Award recipient jumped on Facebook and wrote, “Look out for my forthcoming children’s book, ‘Go the — to Sleep.'”

Though the book has resonated with adults nationwide, Mansbach says he still doesn’t have a secret recipe to getting children to actually hit the hay.

“It’s a matter of time; there are no shortcuts,” Mansbach said. “My mistake was always that I tried to find a shortcut, so when [my daughter] was half asleep I would start to sneak out of the room and then of course she would wake up and, you know, bolt up right in bed and say, ‘Papa, where are you going?’ And you know the answer is, ‘I’m not going f—ing anywhere.'”

Now three years old, Mansbach’s daughter is aware of “Go the F– to Sleep” — at least as much as a toddler can. (‘Modern Family’ star’s boyfriend may enter race for Florida Senate seat)

“She knows about the book on a sort of general level,” Mansbach said. “She’s watched me have conversations with my illustrator on the phone. One of the illustrations is actually based on a photograph of her, so she is aware of it.” (‘Go the F**K To Sleep’ tops NYT bestseller list, audiobook gets narration from Samuel L. Jackson)

His daughter may have inspired the highly acclaimed book, but Mansbach hasn’t recited it to her yet. (Mansbach’s book gets narration from Samuel L. Jackson)

“I mean, I haven’t read it to her, nor will I for quite some time. But she knows that I’m a writer and she knows that I’m gone a lot more because I’m on the road doing media stuff for the book,” Mansbach said with a laugh. “but that’s about it.”

She might be in luck, as a clean, edited version of “Go the F— to Sleep” will hit bookstores next spring. Mansbach says the upcoming “G-Rated version” will be geared towards children who identify with the book’s rambunctious character. The new edition will be re-written and formatted, sans curse words.

“The idea is that essentially we’ve got a lot of feedback from people who read sort of a censored version of the book to their kids, and the kids found it hilarious because they recognized themselves in the character,” Mansbach said. “They relate pretty easily to the sort of mischievous kid who is winning the war against the parents to stay away. The G-Rated version, it’s not really about replacing the word. I mean, the verses will be re-written so they still work, they still scan. It’s not sort of a ‘find and replace’ mission as much as a sort of re-writing of the book.”

While “Go the F— to Sleep” slayed many babysitters and parents who understand the pains of trying to put restless tots to bed, Mansbach says he’s not sold on the prospect of producing a sequel, unless of course he can come up with a clever theme.

“If an idea comes to me that seems worthwhile, I will, but I’m in no rush to do a crappier [sequel],” Mansbach said. “It’s gotta be worth doing, it’s gotta be funny. What’s good about this book is that it’s original and that there’s an existing genre of bedtime books that I’m sort of ripping on. Only if I feel like I can find something that’s equally original will I do a sequel. It’s not going to be the kind of thing where I churn out one every four months or something, although there have certainly been a lot of suggestions of titles and it’s probably something I could do, but I see no reason to.”

Mansbach, whose novel “The End of the Jews” the San Francisco Chronicle named the best book of the year in 2008, has another work of fiction on the way: This time, Mansbach will tackle aliens.

“I have a graphic novel coming out in February called ‘Nature of the Beast,’ a sci-fi action story with underlying social commentary about an inter-species Gladiator tournament being held to decide who is going to defend earth against aliens on their way to destroy the planet,” Mansbach said.

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Laura Donovan