Have you ever tucked your child in at bedtime with the words "I love you to the moon and back”? Those cherished words are the ending to the timeless children’s picture book, “Guess How Much I Love You, opens a new window?” which has been translated into 57 languages and has sold more than 50 million copies throughout the world.
The book's beloved author, Sam McBratney, writer of over one hundred books and scripts for families, died on September 18 at the age of 77.
Origin of the story
McBratney grew up in Belfast, Ireland, and studied History and Political Science at Trinity College in Dublin. He retired early from teaching at a primary school, grammar school, and college, to become a full-time writer.
This lighthearted tale was launched from a suggestion by McBratney’s editor at Walker Books to write a children’s picture book. He was surprised to learn that you don’t need to be an artist to write a children’s story as well as the high demands of authoring a compelling narrative with such few words.
After over six difficult months of examining the value of each word, McBratney came to realize the tremendous challenge of crafting a picture book. Guess How Much I Love You? , opens a new windowwas published in 1994.
McBratney credits the story’s popularity to several factors, including
- the “simple, direct, and true” words
- the drawings by illustrator Anita Jeram which captured the “gangly awkwardness and boneyness about hares” and the “intimacy between a big one and a wee one”
- his favorite design elements, the cover's old-fashioned style of lettering and the half-title page. Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare look at you as if to say “We’re off on a journey…Are you coming with us?”
“The joy he felt at knowing so many people around the globe connected with the gentle celebration of unconditional love was ever palpable.”
~Donna Cassanova, Walker Books
RIP Sam McBratney, your treasured books filled with kindness and humor will continue to warm children’s hearts for many, many years to come.
Books by Sam McBratney
Thank you to Stephanie Hartwell-Mandella, Corte Madera Branch Manager, for contributing to this post.
n.a. (2020, September 21). Sam McBratney: author Guess How Much I Love You author dies, opens a new window. BBC News. BBC.com
n.a. (n.d.) The story: Guess How Much I Love You, opens a new window. Guesshowmuchiloveyou.com [Candlewick Press website]
Blair, Elizabeth. (2020, September 22). Obituaries: Guess How Much I Love You author Sam McBratney dies at 77, opens a new window. NPR.org
McClements, Freya. (2020, September 21). ‘Guess How Much I Love you’ author Sam McBratney dies aged 77, opens a new window. The Irish Times [online newspaper]
Photo credit The Irish Times, opens a new window, September 21, 2020