Sam’s bedtime story soaring still

Sam McBratney
Sam McBratney

It was 20 years ago when Glenavy author Sam McBratney wrote a simple children’s bedtime story which has taken the world by storm.

‘Guess How Much I Love You?’ tells the story of two Nutbrown Hares who try to best each other with how much each loves the other.

It took the retired school teacher, who was then 50, six months to produce and it has to date sold 30 million copies and been translated into 53 languages.

To celebrate the book’s silver anniversary, publishers Walker Books are selling merchandise in all of Sainsbury’s stores.

Sam will be on hand to sign copies of the book at the launch at Sainsbury’s, Lisburn on Friday March 20 at 4pm.

Sam has written more than 50 books during his career as a writer — everything from science fiction to radio plays.

He was born in 1943 and was brought up at Warren Park and attended Lisburn Central and Friends School before he studied at Trinity College.

After earning a degree in history, he worked as a primary and secondary school teacher from 1970 until 1990.

He took early retirement in order to focus on writing. He and his wife Maralyn have three children.

After his editor suggested he write a picture-book for younger readers, Sam began working with illustrator Anita Jeram on Guess How Much I Love You, which was first published by Walker Books in 1994. The book became popular quickly, selling more than 150 thousand copies within four months of its publication and by September 1995 it had sold more than a million.

It is often listed as the most popular children’s book of all time.

“It is a small simple book with just 300 words,” said Sam. “I wanted to perfect the story. I wanted to write a story about a tender moment between a big one and a wee one.

“When I wrote it I knew it was something special but I did not think it was just as successful now two decades on.

“People still write to me on a regular basis telling me how much they love the book.

“It was difficult to write. I first wrote out an idea and then revisited it.

“It took me six months to get the words right, the movement and the rhythm right.

“ It took a great deal of caraftsmanship.

“I knew it was special but never believed that it would ever be so successful.”