In Goodnight Bob by husband-and-wife team Ann and John Hassett, little Bob uses his flashlight when he sees mysterious eyes in the dark at bedtime. With a whimsical twist, this is a bedtime book unlike any you’ve read before.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Ann and John to chat about Goodnight Bob, their creative process, and favorite bedtime reads.
Q: Which comes first: the text or art?
A: Ann and John: The idea for Goodnight Bob began with a small drawing of a little boy in his bed. Somehow a story grew from that drawing. Finding the words was a little like putting together a puzzle. Every word had to fit just right. That was the hope anyway. Then came days of sketching, doodling, erasing, scribbling, paper-crumpling, and lots and lots of looking out the window. Artwork was finished three hours before deadline. Not really, but close.
Q: Were you ever afraid of the dark?
A: John: I grew up in a house full of mice, and most of them lived in the attic above my bed. Late at night, a few scurrying mice can sound like a gorilla throwing furniture around up there. My brothers and I never got much sleep.
A: Ann: Yes, I’m still afraid of the dark. We don’t have mice in the attic; we have squirrels.
Q: What’s the easiest and hardest part of creating a book?
A: Ann and John: Sometimes a story idea will almost write itself and need very few changes till completion. But those are rare as Bigfoot sightings. Most stories need to be tinkered with over and over till they feel right. Even then, we always find something we wish we could change. Same with the pictures.
Q: What are your hopes for Goodnight Bob?
A: Ann: We hope readers find Goodnight Bob slightly spooky, but also safe and reassuring and fun to read. And if it’s read at bedtime, we hope no one goes to sleep before the last page is turned. Yawning is fine, but no sleeping till the end.
Q: Could you see a sequel in Bob’s future?
A: Ann: Yes! The next book has the working title Bob’s Rock.
Q: What creature would you want to wish you goodnight?
A: John: The famous Cow that Jumped Over the Moon. That cow is amazing. The cows I know couldn’t jump a glass of milk.
A: Ann: I’d like an owl to wish me goodnight with lots of wild hooting right outside my window.
Q: What book do you like to read at bedtime?
A: Ann: I love to read mysteries, but not at bedtime or I’ll have nightmares, so I usually read nonfiction that puts me to sleep.
A: John: Go Dog, Go, by PD Eastman was my favorite bedtime book as a boy, and I still keep it close by. It’s absurdly funny and the pictures are just right. A perfect book, though it may bother cats. Best to read this story while your cat is busy somewhere else.