We sat down with Tish to get to know more about her work as a children’s book author, and talk about our favorite topic at Pajama Program, bedtime! We hope you enjoy reading her answers. You can learn more about Tish and her work here.
Her latest book, Sweet Dreams Ahead Time for Bed, written in partnership with Pajama Program was released in late March 2021. Donations to support distribution of this book to Pajama Program’s Community Partners nationwide can be made here.
Why did you write this book?
I wrote Sweet Dreams Ahead Time for Bed because I am a grandmother of five and I know that children need a good night’s sleep to help them learn and grow. I wanted to create a book that was three books in one: a rhyming, restful storybook, tips for parents on how to make bedtime easy for everyone and a simple, sweet lullaby to sing to your little ones every night.
Is it easy to rhyme everything?
When I first started writing rhyming books I had a computer program called “A Million Gazillion Rhymes” which helped me. I just typed a word into the program and it came back with lots of rhymes. Over the years, I have been doing this for such a long time, the rhymes just pop into my head and now all the books I write are in rhyme.
What inspired you about Pajama Program’s mission?
I know from long experience that sleep is important for everyone. All of us, even kids, live hectic lives and sometimes it’s not easy to wind down and get the sleep we all need. A familiar bedtime routine helps the day fade away, lets the world calm down and lets sleep embrace us as we get ready for a new day to begin. Pajama Program knows well how creating a routine that repeats every night makes bedtime easy and enjoyable for everyone.
What was your favorite bedtime story growing up?
When I was a little girl I loved the Beatrix Potter storybooks. They were small green books, maybe just 6 inches by 4 inches, and she wrote the words and painted the beautiful illustrations. When I first saw the hand painted illustrations by Gill Guile, who illustrated Sweet Dreams Ahead Time for Bed, they reminded me of Beatrix Potter’s gorgeous pictures. I also loved the names of the characters and remember them still: Peter Rabbit, Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddle Duck and many more. I have all the books in the series and love to see them snuggled together on my library shelves.
What is a favorite bedtime routine memory from your childhood?
My favorite memory of bedtime when I was growing up was my mother reading to us every night. I have two older brothers and the three of us would sit on the couch with her and listen to the sound of her voice. She read us long books especially the Wizard of Oz books and she would randomly put a piece of paper in one of the upcoming pages and I would watch that paper get closer and closer knowing that when she got to it she would stop and it would be time for bed. The books had very few illustrations so all we had to see the characters like the Patchwork Girl, the Gnome King and the Cowardly Lion in our minds was the way she read their fanciful descriptions and our own imaginations.
Who draws your characters?
Over the years I have worked with many wonderful artist/illustrators. For Sweet Dreams Ahead Time for Bed I reached out to Gill Guile, an illustrator from London who draws beautiful pictures in black and white and then hand paints them! The little animals in Sweet Dreams are simply beautiful and I am grateful she created this book with me.
You have written so many animal books: do you have any pets?
I have loved cats and kittens since I was a little girl. My husband and I always adopt “rescue cats” who are living in a shelter because we want them to have a good home. Our first cat was called “Eddie” and somehow we ended up calling him “Eddie Spaghetti” (as you know I love to rhyme!). We both are musicians, I’m a singer and my husband plays bass and banjo, so we named our new rescue cat “Willie Nelson Rabe.”
Have you ever written a book that was never published?
Yes, there have been many and it’s something authors don’t always admit. Before I got my job writing for The Cat in the Hat I wrote a rhyming book about a dinosaur who only ate broccoli.
Maurus O’Raurus was a brachiosaurus
Who had the best voice in the Dinosaur Chorus.
He liked to play tennis and swim in the sea
But mostly he liked to eat fresh broccoli.
Although this book has never been published when I submitted it to Random House in 1995 they liked the rhythm and rhyme and hired me to write The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library and 58 other Cat in the Hat books!