I don't have kids, but I can still relate to this book. Why? Because I was once a bratty kid, I suppose. And because it strikes fear in my heart. Several years ago, my mother placed "The Mother's Curse" on me. In a frightening tone, she pointed her finger straight at my heart and recited, "May you one day have children exactly like you."
Oh, god, and now Mansbach's book has brought it all back. Oh, the horror! One day, I will be subject to the bratty, whiny, snotty (and, of course cute, cuddly and lovable) thing that will keep me up all night just attempting to put it down. Which is part of the reason I like this book. It's not me yet, and I can revel in my own selfish bedtime.
But for those of you who do have kids, you've probably found that all of those cutesy little bedtime stories have amassed to become one indistinguishable mountain of tedium -- Leo the Lion and Dino the Dragon and Time for Bed, Sunshine (yes, I just made those up, but they sound legit, don't they?). "Part of why I wrote this book is that they all blurred together," Mansbach explains.
Mimicking the lyrical rhyme and pleasantly insipid stylings of typical children's bedtime storybooks, Go The F**k To Sleep provides a refreshing spin on those doldrums. Though you might not want to read it to your little one. This one's for you.Amid some criticism that Go The F**k To Sleep couldn't have been successful if written by a mommy, Mansbach acknowledges that parenting standards might be lower for fathers and in some way that might have helped his book's success. "I managed to dress my kid and put her in a stroller and that's a huge accomplishment?!?" he exclaims.
Well, of course it's an accomplishment -- I can barely manage to dress myself in the morning let alone a squirming little creature. But that goes for all parents -- daddies shouldn't be the only ones getting props. If Go The F**k To Sleep helps in making fathers more visible as caregivers, the increased visibility should prove that neither mommies nor daddies are better at parenthood. Parenthood is an uphill-in-the-snow-barefoot-over-glass endeavor for everyone.
In any case, Go The F**k To Sleep isn't about sparking a war between mommies and daddies. Mansbach throws in: "I think this is totally universal." That it is.
Stay tuned as well for the feature film currently being adapted from this little ditty. Also check out Samuel L. Jackson's lyrical rendering.
Adam Mansbach and illustrator Ricardo Cortes will be appearing tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble at The Grove, 189 The Grove Dr. Unit K-30, (323) 525-0270 and Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 5:00 p.m. at Kitson in Santa Monica, 395 Santa Monica Pl., (310) 260-9170, akashicbooks.com/gothefucktosleep.htm.
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