In October of 1995 I got this letter:
“Dear Mr. Munsch,
I am writing to you with regards to an idea for a future book. I am a mother of two great kids. Our son Michael is 10 and our daughter Amy will be 7 in November. Amy is not an easy kid to get out of bed in the morning. Most mornings I call her several times and a lot of times have to physically pick her up and stand her on her feet. As you can guess, this gets to be time consuming and annoying.
One morning I went in to get her out of bed. She had pulled the covers over her head and told me “I am not getting out of bed and I am too tired to go to school”. I asked her what she should do? Her dad and I had to go to work and Michael had to go to school.
She said that she wanted to go to school but she just didn’t want to get out of bed. Then I told her that maybe we could phone the school and see if we could take her bed into the Grade 2 classroom. That sure got her attention.
Well, the next morning, it was business as usual. Amy and I talked again about the bed going into the classroom. We both had a good laugh imagining the looks on everyone’s face and about how funny it would be if that happened.
What do you think of the idea?
The longer we talked about it, the more I could visualize it. One little girl (named Amy, of course) starts it, the teacher goes nuts, the next day 2 or 3 more kids and their beds show up. All of a sudden it’s the whole class, then the entire school.
I have no idea whether you ever get story ideas like this but I hope you will give it some thought…”
What I thought of was a story called “Get Out of Bed”. In the story Amy got taken to school in her bed. I sent it to Amy and then sort of forgot about it, because it never got on my list of stories to tell. Then in 1998 an editor at Scholastic Canada found it in a big binder of stories (about 200 stories) that I had sent her. She liked it and after a lot of editing it turned into a book called Get Out of Bed.
It is my only story that ever came from a parent’s letter.
Tavistock is a very small town. While I was writing the book about Amy the owner of the bookstore in Tavistock called me and asked me to do a signing. This would not have happened in a larger town, but since everybody in Tavistock knows everybody else – as in “My husbands family has farmed here for 5 generations”; the bookstore lady knew that I was writing the book.
I thought, “Neat! Amy and I can sign books together and it will be the official launching of the book.” But when I got to Tavistock on September 12, things were a bit more elaborate than the usual bookstore signing. It was, after all, the 148′th annual Tavistock Fall Fair. There had been some mention of a parade and I thought that Amy and I would be riding in a car. Not so. The fall fair is a big deal in Tavistock and the locals compete bitterly in the production of floats, just like Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Amy had a float.
It was the work of Amy and the bookstore and Amy’s parents and cousins to the 10′th degree. It was, in fact, Amy’s bed loaded onto a hay wagon. The whole bed with the same blankets as in the book and also Amy, dressed in the same blue bathrobe and rabbit slippers as in the book and also about 20 of her friends, all in pajamas. Rarely has a page from my book been more nicely copied. Except that this was more like the original picture Amy’s mom had sent me for the book illustration. The only difference was that Amy was three years older and her bathrobe was too short for her fifth grade length.
The whole affair was pulled by Amy’s uncle on a tractor. We were followed by a 1946 two cylinder John Deer tractor that made a strange farting noise. I was very impressed with the 1946 tractor, but the judges were not. Amy1s float won first prize. I had never been on a float before and here I was on one winning first prize! It was a real mind trip. I loved it.
Once in the rink where the indoor part of the fair was, I told a few stories and then signed books for two hours. Amy wandered by about every 15 minutes and signed a few herself. She decided that signing autographs is not much fun after the first 10. The bookstore sold almost 500 books, which was more than sold at my last book launching which was at the Toronto zoo and handled by the Scholastic publicity Department. The locals who missed Amy in the book signing vowed to track her down later. She will probably be signing books for years.
I also found that Amy’s father is the cheese master at the Tavistock Cheese Factory that makes Tavistock cheese. I wish I had known that for the book.