INTERVIEW: Guess How Much I Love You author, Sam McBratney
How much do you love your kids? Right up to the moon – and back?
Twenty years ago, Guess How Much I Love You surprised the children’s book world with a touching tale about a father and son hare pair. Now the book has sold more than 28 million copies around the world. The perfect book for Father’s Day, we asked its author Sam McBratney about the book’s phenomenal success...
Guess How Much I Love You must feature the first hare pairing in the history of children's books?
I think so. There were the famous Peter Rabbit books of course, but I wrote about hares, not rabbits. But what people love about this book are Anita Jeram’s illustrations. She’s caught them superbly.
The book has give so many parents a wonderful catchphrase to share with younger children; ‘I love you right up to the moon – and back’.
I suppose it has, yes. I see the book used in so many people different ways. People sometimes ask me ‘why do you write books?’ and the answer is ‘to be read!’ These words have been read again and again and again, and that’s something to be delighted about.
You’ve been touring to celebrate the books 20th anniversary. I imagine lots of the fans you meet now have children of their own?
Often when I’m in a bookshop or doing a signing, the parents in the queue have a story to tell about the book, how old they were when they first read it.
What made this book such a worldwide phenomenon?
Four things: the words that came first. The lovely illustrations by Anita. Then the team who put the words and pictures together in such an irresistible way; at the start, the two hares look at you as if to say ‘we’re off on the journey, are you coming?’. Finally, I think there was a bit of shrewd marketing going along in the background somewhere.
And presumably you won a stack of awards for it?
It never won an award! Almost 30 million copies and it never won an award. It did win an award by American booksellers, but over here, it never won a thing! It didn’t make a blind bit of difference to it.
The book has been a favourite of couples, as well as parents, over the years...
Yes it has. So many people buy the book, so it has all kinds of readers. All different kinds of people buy it for different reasons. Once you’ve written something and it’s out there, it’s up to people to make of it what they will. It’s no longer my property.
It’s your most successful book isn’t it?
Almost everything else I’ve written has disappeared without trace.
Has it become your pension then?
Oh yes. Well it’s a financial success, there’s no hiding that!
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram is published by Walker Books.
For your chance to win one of five Lindt Father's Day Chocolate Hampers worth £50, click here.
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