A book that was self-published by a Swedish author to help children fall asleep at bedtime had topped the US and UK Amazon book charts.
The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep is written by Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin and follows the story of sleepy rabbit Roger as he goes to visit his Uncle Yawn in an effort to doze off. The front cover has an extraordinary claim that states the book can make ‘Anyone fall asleep’.
Originally published in Sweden in 2011, the book soon gained notoriety and was translated into English in April 2014 so that American and UK residents could buy it and try it out on their children. It now occupies the top spot in Amazon’s coveted book charts, outselling the new novel from Harper Lee – Go Set a Watchman and Paula Hawkins’s bestselling thriller – The Girl on the Train.
The incredible success of the book is being attributed, in some part, to the reviews from delighted, and somewhat mystified parents, who are giving the book an average of 3.5 stars.
Comments such as these are typical:
“This book really works! It has never failed to get my granddaughter to sleep yet. Unbelievable!”
“i completely recommend this book for anyone who has a child with a sleep disorder. works a treat!”
“Lovely book, helped my baby girl to fall fast asleep even when teething. Happy sleepy baby, happy mummy and daddy.”
“Brilliant! Went from 11pm bedtime to 820pm!”
Ehrlin has a degree in Psychology and used particular words when writing the book that would relax and promote the idea of falling asleep to whoever it was read to.
He said recently, about the book’s enormous success: “After all the emails from satisfied parents who call the book magical, I know it is a book that truly works for most families,” he said. “Since I recently started to focus on the UK with marketing and parents started to talk about the book to friends, it’s been a quick success. This is something new, a new type of bedtime story … where psychology, bedtime story and a lot of good intentions meet. I hope from the bottom of my heart that my bedtime story will help a lot of children to relax in the evening and that families will find a balance in their lives.”
This is the first time Ehrlin has written a book for children, as his last two were for adults and were about personnel development. These have not been translated into English. “I never thought I would write a children’s book, I never planned for it, it just came to me one day when I was driving and I felt directly that I need to write the book that came to me,” said the author.
“The whole story came to me in a split second. I woke my mother up, she was with me in the car. I told her to quickly write down what I said and all we found was a napkin and an old pencil that barely worked. I got all the characters, the techniques that I should use and the basis of the story. Then when I came home I had to write everything down and starting to make sense of the story.”
The book took Ehrlin over three years to write, as he wanted to find the “right words to use, to get the effect it was supposed to have” in Swedish. “After a while, they met the beautiful and wise Heavy-Eyed Owl again,” he writes in the English translation. “Heavy-Eyed Owl told Roger the Rabbit, I can see that you are tired, [name] and that both of you are very close to falling asleep now. Roger was very tired and slowly nodded his head, said yes, and felt how right Heavy-Eyed Owl was. I am well on my way to falling asleep now, you thought. Goodnight, says the wise Heavy-Eyed Owl, now, shutting your eyes and yawning yourself to sleep [yawn].”
Ehrlin’s decision to self-publish was not because he could not find a publisher that would take him on, but that “in Sweden I see a trend that the books that sell best are often self-published. There’s a new era growing in the book business where people who are active in social media becomes the new bestsellers.”
In fact, now that his rabbit book has done so well, publishers are falling at his feet to take him on, but he is determined to carry on without them as he has “found a good strategy to succeed without other publishers”.
“In Sweden The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep has been a success a while and now in UK,” he said. “Still I think that I am dreaming and perhaps fell asleep to my own bedtime story. I wonder if I will wake up some day.”
The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep is available on amazon.co.uk for £4.00