Originality of 'Go the F**k to Sleep' brought into question

Monday, 20 June 2011 14:20
gotosleep052311_optBY ALICIA CRUZ

It's designed like any children's story, but one look at the title, and it's clear this is no bedtime story for your children. This is clearly one for us parents who know bedtime with a toddler is often a verbal wrestling match.

If you're the parent of toddler, you will definitely be able to identify with parent Adam Mansbach's, “Go the F**k to Sleep.” The Courier Post said Mansbach's book is a colorful mix of "bedtime banter" coupled with "very real parental frustration."

"It's the empathy effect of wiped-out parents everywhere," said Mansbach, who added parents closely identify with his struggle and the honesty of what he's written. Every parent has at least one child that hates bedtime and turns it into a major production no matter what you do.

Excerpt from the book:

"Daddy, I'm thirsty!"

"I have to go potty!"

"Can you read me one more story, pleeeeeeeease!"

The young author told Smith Magazine's Diane Ackerman that there’s a culture of both perfection and dishonesty about things like parenting. He said, “Part of the reason this book has been received so well is that it’s been cathartic to have people admit that it’s not good all the time.” The seasoned author says he has received emails thanking him for publishing the profanity-laced book he decided to pen using his own bedtime struggles with his two-year-old daughter as a backdrop.


'Go the F**k to Sleep' book goes viral with online PDF

The book, illustrated by Ricardo Cortes, also has an audio book, narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson. Its first press run was astonishing. There's no doubt all the Internet buzz (Facebook, YouTube) boosted Mansbach's creation onto Amazon's top 300, and the New York Times' Best Selling list. The attention prompted the book's publisher, Akashic Books, to move the publication date from October to June. Both versions were released on Tuesday. The audio book can be downloaded free.

Despite the fanfare, the book has generated suspicion in at least one person as to its originality. Jean Feiwel, senior vice president and director of Macmillan Children’s Publishing and publisher of Feiwel and Friends and Square Fish, said she is amazed that no one has caught on to the striking similarities between Mansbach's book and "It’s Time to Sleep, My Love," by Nancy Tillman.

Feiwel said the moment she stopped laughing, she realized that “Go the (Expletive) to Sleep,” was clearly a parody of Tillman's book, Publisher Weekly reported. In a press release, Macmillan compared sample lines from Tillman’s book:

“It’s time to sleep,/ it’s time to sleep,/ The fishes croon in waters deep./ The songbirds sing in trees above./ It’s time to sleep, my love, my love.”

with lines from Mansbach's book:

“The windows are dark n the town, child./ The whales huddle down in the deep./I’ll read you one very last book if you swear/ You’ll go the f**k to sleep.”

Feiwel agrees the book is hilarious and something almost every parent can relate to, but says “It’s based on Nancy’s book. It takes that book’s sentiment and turns it on its head. I just wanted to say, ‘Back up. It’s Time to Sleep, My Love was there first.’ Let’s give credit where credit is due,” she told Publishers Weekly.

Mansbach, is a former DJ and founding editor of 1990s hip hop journal “Elementary,” which was noted as the best thing ever published on hip hop" by cultural critic Michael Eric Dyson, according to his website biography. The Rutgers University professor of fiction is considered one of the leading theorists and scholars of hip-hop culture. His previous publications include “Angry Black White Boy,” and “The End of the Jews” for which he won the California Book Award for fiction in 2008.

Comments (5)
5 Tuesday, 21 June 2011 08:58
Oh, pull-eezz! Like NO parent hasn't felt the way the parent in Go the F*** to Sleep is portrayed.

Feeling that way doesn't make you a bad parent, but does make you HUMAN.
4 Monday, 20 June 2011 21:48
Adam wrote this book for one of two reasons:

Either he has horrible parenting abilities,
he is simply writing to those who have horrible parenting abilities.

All to make a "buck."

Either way, it's an obvious representation of his poor moral character.
(and that goes for the character of anyone who would patronize this "garbage.")
----shame on you Sam L. Jackson (and I loved Pulp Fiction)

I can't wait for his children to pull out a copy of this book (in 40 or 50 years) for him when he's on his deathbed!
3 Monday, 20 June 2011 17:37
I honestly see no similarities in the lines provided.
2 Monday, 20 June 2011 15:16
I agree with the previous poster.
The headline is designed to capture attention. Here's a great little book, an inspired moment in the writer's professional life, being smeared needlessly. Better to perhaps mention that it's a satirical tangent on known books, but no more than that is needed.
1 Monday, 20 June 2011 14:48
Children's doggerel is children's doggerel. Go the )(&&#R to Sleep is no more a ripoff of "It's Time To Sleep, My Love" than any other smarmy children's book. The headline of this article is sensationalist and inflammatory, and should be changed to match the tenor of the article.

Either that or the accusation should lead the story and have some backup other than suggesting it's a "satire".
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