Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Happy Book - Malachy Doyle

The Happy Book, my new picture book from Bloomsbury was published on May 3. I only wrote it 6 years ago, it's only 48 words long, but it's out there at last. Yaay!

Back in 2005, I came across an old Swedish proverb:

'Fear less, hope more,
Whine less, breathe more,
Talk less, say more,
Hate less, love more
And all good things will be yours.''



I really liked both what it was saying and how it was saying it, and decided to play around with the concept, with young children in mind, to see if I could come up with a picture book.

I originally called it 'Eat less, breathe more' and here's some of the lines I considered (and, thankfully, rejected!) along the way:

'Be bossy less, listen more,
Shrivel up less, dance more,
Couch potato less, read more...'

But, apart from not feeling right on re-reading, they didn't have the rhythm I wanted. I wanted it to sing.

So I tried rhyme:

'Take less, make more,
Scare less, dare more...'

but that was too limiting. It was meaning that was most important, not structure.

Then I noticed that, by some sort of happy coincidence, a lot of the lines I'd come up with were starting with the same letter, so I decided to play around with that idea. That way I'd have structure and rhythm, but still have room to say what I really wanted about the important things in life.

Some that didn't make the cut were:

'Whine less, whistle more,
Hate less, hug more,
Pout less, paint more,
Boo-hoo less, beam more,
Zoom less, zig-zag more...'

But I found lots I did like. It was saying things I believed in, and it was starting to trip off the tongue well too.

I tried it out on people, and it seemed to strike a chord. I gave copies to my writers group and one of them, not always the cheeriest of souls, told me some time later, 'It's pinned up on my fridge, I read it every morning, try to live it every day, and my life's improved no end!'

Then my daughter asked if she could have it read it at her wedding - a proud moment for a proud papa.

A friend, recently passed away, asked for it to be read at her memorial service, too.


It took two years for The Happy Book to find a publisher, and another four to get it out there, but Caroline Uff's illustrations are joyful, colourful, warm and vibrant. And I'm a Happy Bunny!

Write Away says: It's a manifesto for life. 'Worry less, wonder more.' Absolutely, Malachy. Thank you. :-)

Publisher's Weekly says: Provides a roadmap to a less fraught home life...'

(In the US it's published as Get Happy by Walker Books)

5 comments:

Enid Richemont said...

Malachy - would that be the same Walker Books of the UK that I know and love? Or is it a US publisher?

The book sounds wonderful, and I need it - wish I'd been there when you shared the text at Coventry.

Marie-Louise said...

Sounds wonderful, Malachy. Looking forward to getting a hold of it! And a GREAT title; why did no one think of that before?

Lynne Benton said...

I remember it well, Malachy, when you read it to us at Charney a few years ago. It was then, and remains, inspirational! So glad it's out there at last.

malachy said...

No, Enid - there's an old- established publisher in the US called Walker, which is why when the British company set up in the States they used the name Candlewick.

Actually in the US it turned out someone already HAD used the title, Marie-Louise. I suggested calling it BE HAPPY over there, but the publisher went with GET HAPPY.

Thanks Lynne. Yes, it's great when they see the light of day at last. Sometimes it feels like it takes FOREVER.

Connie@raise your eyes said...

Looking forward to reading it! Love hearing where the ideas for books come from.

All for GOD,
Connie