Sylvia Plath was born 89 years ago today. A published writer from age at, she left behind a vast catalogue of poetry and prose, especially given her short life. One of her most charming works was a rhyming children’s book written in 1959 (before either of her children were born) and published in 1976, after her death: The Bed Book.
She wrote the book at the urging of Atlantic Monthly Press editor Emilie McLeod (who also worked with Marc Brown on the first book in the Arthur series). Ariel S. Winter writes on his blog that Little Brown, then publisher of Atlantic Monthly Press books, passed on The Bed Book, because they felt it “is not simple and basic enough, that some of the beds are too farfetched, and that it has more appeal to adults than to children.” (This is absurd, as everyone knows children love things that are farfetched.)
Faber & Faber finally published the book in the UK in 1976, with illustrations from the great Quentin Blake. As you can see, it is whimsical and perfect:
I mean! A Snack Bed! That’s just smart!
This one isn’t even farfetched. It’s just a dirty.
The Bed Book reminds me a bit of Shel Silverstein (who was himself no stranger to the farfetched), though he didn’t publish his first children’s book—Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back—until 1963. So, as ever, the moral of the story is that publishing is fickle and difficult to predict.
And that Snack Bed is a brilliant concept.
[h/t Poems for Kids]