Sam McBratney, ‘Guess How Much I Love You’ author, dies

Sam McBratney, ‘Guess How Much I Love You’ author, dies

NEW YORK — Sam McBratney, the Irish children’s author whose picture story of ever-wider and higher devotion “Guess How I Much Love You” became bedtime reading for millions of families, has died.

Candlewick Press announced that McBratney died Friday at age 77. Additional details were not immediately available. His death comes less than two weeks before the publication of “Will You Be My Friend?”, a companion to his 1994 classic, which has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 57 languages.

“Sam McBratney was a profoundly lovely human being,” Karen Lotz, group managing director of Candlewick’s parent company Walker Books Group, said in a statement Monday. “You could recognize his voice in a moment — he was an exceptionally talented wordsmith and always knew exactly what children would enjoy hearing the most. Amazingly humble, he also was a hilarious storyteller and convivial companion.”

McBratney would call his famous book “a lighthearted little story designed to help a big one and a wee one enjoy the pleasure of being together.” With illustrations by Anita Jeram, “Guess How Much I Love You” tells of older and younger nutbrown hares — presumed to be father and son — and their game of one-upmanship as each declares his feelings for the other, with the title a question repeated throughout.

How much does a tiring Little Nutbrown Hare love his father? “As far as I can reach.” Big Nutbrown Hare extends his longer arms even wider. The son raises his arms “as high as I can reach.” The father’s arms go higher, and Little Nutbrown Hare grows sleepier.

“I love you right up to the moon,” Little Nutbrown Hare finally says, as he falls asleep.

“I love you right up to the moon — and back,” his father tells him as he settles Little Nutbrown Hare into a bed of leaves and kisses him goodnight.

McBratney is survived by his wife of 56 years, Marilyn; three children and six grandchildren

A native of Belfast and a graduate of Trinity College in Dublin, McBratney was a history teacher who wrote more than 50 books even though he didn’t become a full-time writer until middle age, when he retired from teaching. His other works include the historical novel “The Chieftain’s Daughter,” “The Lough Neah Monster” and “School Trip to the Stars.”

Many of his books were inspired by his children, grandchildren, history or his local community: His debut novel, “Mark Time,” was a pre-adolescent love story set in Northern Ireland. He wrote “Guess How Much I Love You” after his publisher suggested he try a picture story.

“I went back to a little fragment of an idea that I had used in an earlier book and I thought I really liked that little episode that would make a lovely picture book,” he later told readingrockets.org. “And so I worked that up into a picture book. And I expected that picture book to go like all the others, all the other books, you know, might get five years out of it, might get six, then after that you’ll not be able to buy it in the shops anymore, you know.”

The Associated Press

author

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Car thief opening stolen car doors. 
(Black Press File Image)
Idling vehicles attracting thieves, RCMP warns

About one-third of stolen vehicles left idling unattended

Police reveal a collection of drugs, cash and guns seized in an April 2016 bust. One of the men charged was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday.
Advocate file photo
Red Deer man sentenced to 27 months for role in “dial-a-dope” operation

RCMP Priority Crimes Task Force broke up drug operation in April 2016 after four-month investigation

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer RCMP traffic stops lead to number of charges

Two different traffic stops conducted by Red Deer RCMP in September led… Continue reading

Boards for the neighbourhood outdoor rink near Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School are in place for the skating season. Like last year, the city will maintain 77 outdoor rinks throughout Red Deer. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Boards going up at outdoor neighbourhood rinks

City of Red Deer will alert public when rinks are ready to use

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier isolating after minister tests positive for COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating at home

JJ Collett Natural Area Foundation held its AGM on Oct. 19 at the Ponoka Legion. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
De-listing Alberta parks creates ‘risk’ for coal mining: CPAWS

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society speaks at JJ Collett AGM

Cash and Cars lottery
Sylvan Lake woman wins major prize from Cash and Cars Lottery

Karin Plunkett of Sylvan Lake was a winner in the annual Alberta… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Temporary COVID-19 testing sites coming to Wetaskiwin and Ponoka

The Wetaskiwin location will open Oct. 23, 2020 and the Ponoka location will open Oct. 29.

ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly spoke to Ponoka Chamber of Commerce members over Zoom on Oct. 20. (Image: screenshot)
Alberta chambers are ‘411’ to members, government: ACC president

Changes to government supports, second wave and snap election

world affairs
British brinkmanship leaves little hope of a Brexit trade deal

The British pantomime is a traditional Christmas entertainment in which stock characters… Continue reading

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Red Deer city council will hold a public hearing on Oct. 28 about whether to take the future expansion of Molly Banister Drive off the table. (Photo by MAMTA LULLA/Advocate staff).
Opinion: Molly Banister extension isn’t as important as quality of life

Citizen opposition to the Molly Banister Drive extension has grown since the… Continue reading

Email letters to editor@interior-news.com
I ask myself: ‘What the hell’ has happened to Red Deer?

I moved to Red Deer on Nov. 1, 2001, and I fell… Continue reading

Most Read