It’s not every day that a good customer writes a book and gets it published. Jeanne Blackmore is that customer. She is also one of my favorites. All of us in retail have customers we love to see walk in the door. Sometimes it’s because we know they love books and tend to buy a lot, and sometimes it’s because seeing them walk in the store means at least 15 minutes of laughter and good conversation. Jeanne is a great combination of both.
Her debut picture book is called How Does Sleep Come? and it’s a lovely bedtime book, full of gorgeous illustrations and soothing, lovely text that makes me relaxed every time I read it. Jeanne’s grandfather is Roger Duvoisin, so she comes by her talent naturally. It struck me as funny that in all the years I’ve known Jeanne, I only learned of this familial connection when I read the press release. I liked her even more for that.
This was our first pajama party. We had cookies and milk for the kids and wine and cheese for the adults. Many kids came in their pjs and that was so cute to see. What you can’t see in the photo on the left was the book that the boy had tucked in the pocket of his robe. I loved his earnestness. It did break my heart, though, when he asked three times if any of the cookies were gluten free.
Jeanne may be a tax lawyer by day, but she sure handled the event like a pro. She asked the kids how they fall asleep. It’s amazing to me how shy noisy kids can get when asked a question. Then she showed the crowd her daughter’s special blanket and bunny. This was the only tense moment of the event. The smallest child in the crowd, probably three, clad in cow jammies, saw the bunny and was rapt. The bunny went around the room for all to touch, but when it went away all we could hear was this sad little voice, “Daddy, can you tell me where the bunny went?” Everyone chuckled. And later, when all the other kids were eating cookies, this little girl was at the desk, patting the bunny’s nose.
The book is based on Jeanne’s son Ben and she wrote it when he was two to help him sleep. It took her 20 minutes to write and the publisher asked her to change two words. Just two! Wow. The story works so gently and calmly that all the pj-clad kids who were bouncing around before the reading, were silent and leaning in during the reading. They were so quiet all the parents rushed to buy copies after the event. I’ve never actually seen kids quiet down so fast for so long.
It was a little bit like magic.