Mortimer was the first story I ever made up. I made it up way back in 1971 when I was a student teacher at Wellesley College Child Studies Nursery School.
The teacher said to me one day: “Bob Munsch, It’s your turn to do circle time.” So I made up a story about a little boy who didn’t like to go to bed.
He yelled, “Clang, clang, rattle-bing-bang” – I gave all the kids noise makers so that when it came time to make noise they made an incredible racket. The story went over very well and I kept telling it to kids for years and years without writing it down.
When I finally wrote it down, my publisher didn’t like it. They said “It’s just good for telling. It will not be a good book.” I bugged them and bugged them and bugged them. They finally put out Mortimer just as a little mini book. It went so well they finally stuck it into a big book. It is now one of my best selling books. Kids really like it. I think everybody has times when they don’t want to go to bed.
A very funny thing happened with this story. Once I was telling stories at a school in Toronto. It was not a fun school. The principal ran around looking very mean; the teachers ran around looking very mean; and the kids ran around looking very unhappy. I don’t think anybody got along very well in that school. At the end of the day I told stories to all of the kids and when I was done the principal got up and started yelling at the kids, telling them how they were going to be quiet and go back to their rooms and not cause any trouble. When he was done talking all the kids were silent for a second and then they all started to sing, “Clang, clang, rattle-bing bang.” Well the principal was really freaked out. I decided it was time to go.