A friend and loyal reader of our blog requested that I review this book, and what a great suggestion that was. Timely and certainly a fun book to review! Her reasoning was: “Because if you like it, I’m buying it for all my friends who have kids.”
With that kind of endorsement, who could resist? That is what we’re here for, after all.
If you live under a rock and haven’t heard about this new picture book, it started as a joke. Author Adam Mansbach posted the following status update on his Facebook profile one night: “Look out for my forthcoming children’s book, ‘Go the F**k to Sleep.’” It received an overwhelming response, so he began to draft some actual verses. Originally scheduled to be released in October, the release date was moved up several times due to demand and insane levels of pre-ordering. It was finally released June 14th. And it gets better: Samuel L. Jackson narrated the audio version, which is available for free on Audible.
This is a picture book with bright illustrations and short, rhyming text that becomes hilarious when juxtaposed with cavalier profanity. The first two lines of each verse sound like they could be found in an actual children’s book, with various creatures settling down for the night. The last two are a variation on the title’s plea for the child to follow suit and “go the f**k to sleep.” You can sense the building frustration and exhaustion as the book wears on, with the parents more likely to fall asleep during the bedtime process than the children. Anyone who has spent far too much time trying to get an uncooperative child down for the night (or even a nap) will understand the sentiment.
There have been, of course, those who decry a book that looks like it should be for children, yet contains such offensive language. I assume they don’t have children, or much of a sense of humor. It seems obvious that this book is meant for parents and should be kept out of reach of the young uns. In my family, the analogous book was How to Eat Like a Child. This book not only tells children how to eat as messily and inefficiently as possible, but how to pull pranks on family members and friends, among other things. For instance, on caring for a pet dog: “Each day, procrastinate and complain until your mother finds it easier to feed it and walk it herself.” There is also some profanity, though not nearly as persistent as Go the F**k to Sleep. It was a book my parents hid from us to help them laugh after a long day with four mischievous children. The frustration that parents have with not being able to get a child to sleep is very real and can be extremely trying. Why not give them an outlet to unwind and relieve some of the stress?
In the end, I do recommend this book for any tired parent who needs a laugh at the end of a long day. It embodies a simple if impertinent message: you are not alone. Your predicament is ubiquitous, and it’s okay to have a laugh at the expense of your mostly-angelic offspring.
Here’s Samuel L. Jackson reading the book. I defy you to watch it without laughing! The background music really adds something special, too.