Several weeks ago, I read some interesting news about a “not yet published” picture book titled Go the F**k to Sleep. The book had begun climbing Amazon’s best-seller list on the strength of preorders that people had placed. According to an article in The New York Times, neither the book’s author Adam Mansbach nor his publisher could account for the “phenomenon.” Galleys of the book had not been distributed. The only people to have seen the work were, purportedly, “a handful of booksellers who received a PDF via e-mail.”
It appears the PDF of Go the F**k to Sleep went viral. Some of the booksellers who received the PDF of the book must have forwarded it to other people…who probably forwarded it to still more people.
Go the F**k to Sleep is a picture book that is not intended for reading to children. It was written for weary parents who lose patience when their “little ones” don’t want to go to bed.
It seems the book has become all the rage. Even Rachel Maddow designated Go the F**k to Sleep a “Best New Thing in the World” on one of her recent shows on MSNBC. Touré, a writer and cultural critic who is the father of two young children, called it an “awesome” book in an appearance on the Dylan Ratigan Show. And actor Samuel L. Jackson recorded an audio-book narration for it. Jackson said that there were times in the past when he was exasperated when his young daughter wouldn’t fall asleep and told her to “go the f**k to sleep.” Nice way to speak to a young child, don’t you think?
Here’s how the text of the book begins:
The cats nestle close to their kittens now.
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear
Please go the fuck to sleep.
Maybe I’m an old fuddy duddy. My opinion of the book is different from that of Maddow and Touré. In my opinion, Go the F**k to Sleep is not awesome. It’s not a “best new thing in the world.” While I laughed when I first heard about the book, I found the rhyming text tiresome after the first couple of pages. I got the joke. I thought it wore thin quickly.
What I wonder about is how many mothers-to-be and parents of newborns will receive this book as a gift. I also wonder how many parents may now think it’s cool to tell their wee ones who don’t feel like going to bed to “go the f**k to sleep.”
Listen to Samuel l. Jackson’s reading of the book and let me know what your opinion of it is.
I’d like to suggest some fine picture books to read to young children at bedtime:
The Mystery of “Go the F to Sleep” Solved (The New Yorker)
Go the Fuck to Sleep: a storybook for exhausted parents (Boing Boing)
‘Go the F— to Sleep’: The Case of the Viral PDF (The Bay Citizen)
A Whim, A Book, And, Wow! (New York Times)