It’s bedtime at the Snakes’ house. Where is that sssssSam?
Kids often wander off. I wonder if little snakes do it too? And where would they go if they lived in a house?
We wanted to do a book about numbers one to ten, with good rhythm. I wrote a poem called Ten Snoring Snakes which had the same rhythm as “One potato, two potato”. This book was originally going to be called “Ten Snoring Snakes”.
I was trying to think of a story in which we can count from one to ten and then back again. The idea I had for the poem was: the snakes get into bed one-by-one, and then one starts snoring. They get out of bed one-by-one to see who is snoring and that way we can count both ways. The problem was that there was not enough story in that poem for a 24 page book.
I originally gave all the snakes names starting with ‘S’. I was thinking of this little snake, Sam and trying to find a story for him and the other snakes.
One evening, my neighbour’s little girl locked herself in the house, while her mama was outside carrying in the shopping. She was just over two years old, so she was too small to open the door from the inside. I had to break in through the toilet window like a burglar to let her out. It made me think how small kids often wander off on their own and get lost. So I decided to have the youngest snake – Sam – disappear and all the other snakes look for him.
Where could a snake go in the house that would be hard to find but that you could hear him from almost every room? The drains of course! This allowed me to put the useful names for places in the house in the story and other useful language like “Where are you” and “He’s not in the lounge.”
Some teachers in Japan told me that Japanese people can have negative feelings about snakes, so we tried to make them as cute as possible. The illustrator, Matsubayashi-san, did a fantastic job I think and his snakes are cute and not at all scary.