This beautifully-illustrated book lulled me instantly to sleep while my oblivious tot raced laps in her wooden cage*.
From Helen’s blog:
The Baby Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed was born when I saw two year old Caledonia Blackwell (to whom the book is dedicated) fighting off all the boys in her play group so that she could whizz along in the prize, plastic, pedal car. The image of a baby on a road trip hung around my brain from that day, but for a while I had no story for him.
The text for a pigheaded baby who won’t go to bed, popped out the next year. It was written all in one evening and only about ten words were ever altered. Then I was ready to draw, but the only thing I was sure about was the shape of the tiger.
It was to be modelled on an old toy tiger called Rufus Corn. He used to belong to Ted but now lives in my studio. He is very large, though not as large as the one in the book. Rufus helps with our junk mail when he’s not overseeing my books (you can see a picture of him if you click onto the biography page)
So, I knew Rufus was going to be a book star but there was no time for drawing because we were off on our delayed honeymoon, to Las Vegas and the American west. We weren’t going to gamble. We just wanted to see all the cool stuff out there.
Soon I was outside our pyramid shaped hotel, staring up at an oversized sphinx, with lasers coming out of it’s eyes. I realised that the tiger in my book had to be really big. The sphinx was at a perfect angle. I could easily imagine a sphinx like tiger on some sort of plinth with the Baby looking up at it.
After that our honeymoon became a treasure hunt. The treasures were the ideas we kept seeing for the book. Las Vegas itself, with it’s wacky scale, extraordinary architecture, and oversized animals made me feel a bit like the Baby bowling around in fantasy land. And the book treasure didn’t stop there .
Driving in the desert, miles away from anything, we found a deserted house complete with drifting tumble weed. The creaking billboards, bore the motto ‘Santa’s summer retreat’. It was elaborately painted with Christmas characters, and leaning against the porch was a life sized blueprint for my soldiers.
Then there was the Grand Canyon, source for the gauzy sunsets and sandy landscapes in the book. I came home with a head chock full of the stuff of dreams. Just right for the journey of a baby who’s almost asleep.
You can find lot’s of clues to Baby’s adventures. Look out for the zipper on the tiger’s tummy, the wind-up keys on the birds, and strings from the stars and moon. Spot the bed in some of the landscapes. That’s there to suggest that sleep is just around the corner. Then there’s the bathroom scene. When I’m very tired, getting ready for bed can be a really big deal. I wanted to show what a monumental task all that bathroom stuff is when you’re as tired as the baby. And don’t forget that if you look hard at the last big picture you can find the whole book.
It’s very cute, but way more effective for mums and dads than babies.
*She wriggles in my arms, so I always end up stopping the story to put her in her crib and then resuming it by holding up the pictures to the bars.