Award-winning novelist Adam Mansbach—known to some for his racial satire and screenwriting—is the witty and poetic parent who spoke out in the delicately drawn and totally profane children’s book for parents, Go the F*** to Sleep (GTFTS). What began as only a Facebook post inspired by his own daughter Vivien’s restless nights, soon rallied an army of exhausted yet exuberant moms and dads (and okay, an entire country of critics—cough, New Zealand.) And now, Mansbach has just released a cleaned-up, G-rated version with rearranged illustrations for kids. The name? The very coy Seriously, Just Go To Sleep. —
Let’s jump right in. What’s life been like post-curse word picture book?
It’s been totally insane. I mean, we were parodied in both The New Yorker and Mad Magazine. Who else can say that? I never imagined GTFTS would strike such a universal chord, and I’m glad that it’s provided some laughs and catharsis for people. I’m grateful for it.
Tell us about the G-rated follow-up—Seriously, Just Go To Sleep. We want to know why!
We got a lot of feedback from parents who said they read GTFTS to their kids and censored it on the fly—and the kids loved it; they recognized themselves in the story. A few people even said it made putting their kids to bed easier. So we figured we’d do a version that let kids in on the fun. It gave Ricardo [Cortes] a chance to remix the illustrations, and me a chance to make sure the poetic form stays intact even in a G-rated version.
What has been the overall reaction? Have you found that the same fans/critics have followed you or that a whole new crop came out of the woodwork once the language “calmed down”?
I think a lot of the original fans dig the fact that now there’s a version they can give a kid, or read to their kids—a “companion volume” is how I think of this book. Not many critics so far—nobody in New Zealand is trying to ban this one, the way they did last time around, not that those efforts got anywhere.
We heard that Go the F *** to Sleep is being written as a film. Is there anything you can tell us about the project?
It’s being written by the very talented Shauna Cross (Whip It, the upcoming What to Expect When You’re Expecting) and produced by 3 Arts Entertainment, and so far everything seems to be proceeding quickly and smoothly. That’s about all I’ve got. I had dinner with Shauna, and she’s awesome.
Speaking of children’s books, what do you like reading with your almost four-year-old daughter, Vivien?
She’s into The Odyssey right now—a kids’ version, that is; I don’t think I’ll let her read Homer until she’s at least six. She likes to pretend she’s Athena, the goddess of war and wisdom, which seems about right.