The Dragontongue blog is a year old this week, so it’s nice to be able to celebrate with a guest blogger. Malachy Doyle lived in Wales for many years, and his books include the Tir Na nOg winning Georgie, Granny Sarah and the Last Red Kite, and The Dancing Tiger
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 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 rejected!) along the way:
‘Be bossy less, listen more,
Shrivel up less, dance more,
Couch potato less, read more…’
But it 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.
Then I noticed that a lot of the lines I’d come up with were starting with the same letter, so I decided to see how that would work. 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. And it tripped off the tongue well.
I tried it out on people, and it seemed to strike a chord. I gave copies to my writers group, meeting that month in my house in Aberdyfi, and one of them (well known to Dragontongue) 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!’ Or something like that.
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.
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.
posted by Frances Thomas for Malachy Doyle