A bedtime counting book for 2+
Illustrated by Sue Hellard
This was my first-ever picture book, and it starts like this: “One hungry baby, two front teeth, three dribbly chins with bibs underneath…” As you count the babies, the chaos grows, until at the end there are “twenty tired parents saying ‘Good night!’”
I wrote it in the pouring rain on a Scottish riverbank, while my husband was fishing. I was covered in citronella oil to ward off the clouds of midges, and it just appeared almost fully formed in my head. Luckily I had a pen. It took me all of 10 minutes to scribble down. I wish all books were this easy to write, but I fear that this will probably be a one-off record in the quick writing stakes! When my own ‘hungry baby’ was born (after it was published), I had huge pleasure in reading it to him, and even more pleasure in the fact that he actually enjoyed it and kept asking for it again and again. He’s been my best critic ever since.
Published by Orchard Books 1992 (hardback) 1993 (paperback)
Japanese edition Tuttle Mori/Dowa Kan 1993
US edition Crown 1994
Paperback also taken as a main selection by Early Learning Centre
Sadly out-of-print, but can still be found in secondhand bookstores, and at AbeBooks.
Reviews: April 1992 selected by Sunday Telegraph in ‘best of recent children’s books’ list.
‘Very satisfying to read aloud…sure to become a firm bedtime favourite.’
Practical Parenting April 1992
‘A bouncy rhyming text with wonderfully funny illustrations.’
The Good Book Guide Children’s Guide 1992-3
‘British Coats’ thoroughly adorable bedtime counting rhyme…is sure to be asked for again and again.’
Kirkus Reviews August 1994
‘Coats’ bouncy cumulative verse fairly begs to be read aloud. A perfect bedtime treat.’ Publishers Weekly August 1994