In the world picture book jungle, there is such a picture book, which teaches parents and children around the world to say their love for each other out loud and goes beyond parent-child to become a classic book used to express love between people who love each other. This book is the worldwide bestseller Guess How Much I Love You (later referred to as Guess). Since its publication in 1994, "Guess," with its tender story and soft drawing style has created a miracle of selling 47 million copies worldwide.
The book's text author, Sam McBrainy, sadly passed away on September 18, 2020, at 77. Before his death, the sequel to his book Guesses How Much I Love You Will You Be My Friend? is being printed in earnest, ready to be released worldwide in October. The much-anticipated sequel has become Grandpa Sam's last gift to children around the world.
The first picture book: only 395 words
Sam McBrainy was initially a history teacher and had been working as a part-time writer. Before Sam created his picture books, he had written different types of novels for people of all ages, but none were incredibly successful.
Guess Who was born out of a conversation between Sam McBrainy and Walker Publishing editor in England.
One day, the editor at Walker Publishing in London said to Sam, "Sam, why don't you write a picture book?"
"Carolyn, don't you have to know an illustrator if you're writing a picture book?"
"No." Editor Carolyn replied.
"I don't have to work with an illustrator? I mean, my words have to match the pictures or something."
"Sam," Caroline shook her head, "we have good illustrators who can bring out your imagination, no matter how boundless it is, with delicate brushstrokes. We lack a person who can write a good story without spending a lot of money on ink. It sounds easy, but it's very hard."
Sam decided to challenge himself, and that's how to Guess How Much I Love You was born. The picture book has only 395 words, but Sam spent six months revising the text over and over again, word-for-word, making sure every word had to have real presence.
Sam says, "Writing a picture book is very different from writing a novel. I had to polish every sentence as if it were a rough diamond, trying to match the feeling, the sound, the movement, the rhythm in the sentence."
In the book, the maroon bunny and the giant bunny open their arms and jump up high, using their body movements to interpret their love for each other, which has touched countless readers. The line "I love you to the moon, and then back here from the moon" is regarded as a golden phrase for expressing love between parents and children.
When he wrote Guess How Much I Love You, Sam was nearly 50 years old, but it was this picture book with only 395 words that made him a world-class bestselling author.
Once published, it sold millions annually.
Grandpa Sam once told an anecdote not long after the publication of Guess How Much I Love You. When he and his wife attended a book awards ceremony in London and Guess How Much I Love You did not win, his agent asked Mrs. Sam, "Will Sam be upset?" Mrs. Sam said, "Sam might be a little down right now, but he won't take it seriously every other night."
Who knew that the agent said directly to Mrs. Sam, "Doesn't Sam know he's already made it? Guess How Much I Love You has already sold 100,000 copies!" Then within a year, the book sold a million copies. At one point, a charity organization in a Latin American country that works with the government ordered a million copies of Guess How Much I Love You. To Grandpa Sam, that was like someone walking down the street and buying a million copies of the book outright.
In 1996, it was listed as one of the "Outstanding Children's Books of the American Library Association." It was selected as one of the 44 essential picture books of the 20th century in the United States, "Children's Books of the Twentieth Century."
A reporter once interviewed Grandpa Sam about why "Guess Who" is so timeless. Grandpa Sam replied that it was because the little and big maroon rabbits' story was authentic, and it depicted people's real feelings and presented a power of love. Grandpa Sam also said that he came to this conclusion because he had been hearing from readers for more than 20 years.
Indeed, for the Chinese, who are not good at expressing their feelings nakedly, the phrase "Guess how much I love you" comes out so quickly when you pick up a small book like this. If a book wants to capture more readers' hearts, it depends more on the content so that word-of-mouth will continue to sell. "Guess what" has done because it conveys the undying love and affection to parents and children and carries warm and beautiful memories of growing up in parent-child reading. Grandpa Sam once commented that Anita Jahrang's paintings are elegant and timeless and can transcend the years and last forever.
The beautiful and heartwarming story, together with the elegant paintings and impeccable binding, makes Guess How Much I Love You so enduring. With the love and courage to express love and tell love, this book has entered millions of families and accompanied millions of children to grow up.
Climbing to the top of China's best-selling picture books
Since its publication in 2005, as of August 2020, Guess Who has sold a total of 9 million copies in mainland China and has topped the picture book charts of major book websites for a long time. Such a sales performance is a miracle in China and a rarity in the global book industry.
When the sales of Guess Who reached 70,000 copies, the author, Grandpa Sam, was so excited that he commissioned Xinyi to add a message to Chinese readers on the new edition: Tonight, somewhere in the world, a mom or a dad is reading this story aloud to someone special.
The bestseller after Guess Who is related to the development and prosperity of the children's book industry in general and the picture book segment in particular. According to the relevant data, the growth of picture books has been pronounced since 2012. In 2012, the cumulative sales of Guess Who exceeded 1 million copies, which advanced to the status of a best-selling picture book. By 2018, the incremental sales were close to the 7 million copies mark.
After 26 years, the sequel to Guess How Much I Love You was relaunched.
In 2020, 26 years passed since the English version of Guess Who was released, and the simplified Chinese version has been published for 15 years, and the children who read Guess Who in their parents' arms have grown up and set off on adventures. At such a time, Sam McBrainy and Anita Jauron are collaborating again on the sequel to Guess Who - Guess How Much I Love You Will You Be My Friend?
Grandpa Sam was asked why it took so long to create a sequel, and this was his answer: Many people think that writing a picture book is as easy as rushing out the door to send a short letter in the mail tomorrow morning, but it's not. When writing the story of the giant bunny and the little bunny, I wanted to portray the significant moments of emotional communication between them, written with a light touch and a touch of humor. This new book describes one of those moments, and it took me years of hard thinking to complete it.
Guess How Much I Love You Will You Be My Friend? is a news story about friendship, growing up, and parental letting go. For a child, this book is a brave test of a little heart. A child's innate curiosity, courage to explore the world alone and the experience of meeting new people are the most important first steps in embracing the world and embarking on a journey of growth. For parents, the book means that they see their children out of their arms to embrace the mountains of life.
However, a little over a week before the English version was released, Grandpa Sam left us. Sad and upset, Walker Publishing UK told us that it was comforting for Sam to see the book in print and that he was filled with joy and gratitude when Walker Publishing UK told him back in May that Shinya would introduce the Chinese version.
As one of the world's children's book printers, KS-printing has provided professional services to more than 2,000 publishers worldwide during our twenty years of children's book printing, picture book printing, and hardcover book printing services. Not only do we print books, but we often propose the most cost-effective printing solutions for our customers.