An interview with

Sam McBratney

Sam McBratney

Sam McBratney has been writing children's books for more than 30 years. His internationally bestselling book Guess How Much I Love You, illustrated by Anita Jeram, has sold more than 16 million copies worldwide and continues to sell a million copies a year. When his kids were growing up, he told whimsical original bedtime stories every night. Some of these stories ended up in his published books.

You can listen to the interview below, view the interview transcript, read a short biography on Sam McBratney, or see a selected list of his children's books.


Sam McBratney, a Northern Ireland native who has written more than 50 books for young readers, has published in a variety of genres during his long career as a writer — everything from science fiction to radio plays. His highly acclaimed 1993 young-adult novel The Chieftan's Daughter, a 5th century story of young love and tragedy, was praised by critics as among the most significant works of children's historical fiction published in Ireland. However, it was not until he wrote the seemingly simple story called Guess How Much I Love You that his writing became a career. Guess How Much I Love You is a simple bedtime tale about a father and son rabbit who try to best each other with how much each loves the other. The hardback edition of the book has sold millions of copies and been translated into dozens of languages.

You're All My Favorites, featuring a bear family, has also found a wide audience. Of this book he says, "People often ask authors where their ideas come from, and often authors say they don't know. But I do know about this one. Once upon a time, my wife and I had three small children — two boys and a girl, just like in the story. And when they were young, we used to tell them a story very like You're All My Favorites."

Born in 1943 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, McBratney and his family were forced to evacuate their home near the city's shipyards during World War II. McBratney always loved reading, traditional stories, and words. He graduated with honors in modern history and political science from Trinity College, Dublin, married, and started a family — earning his living as a primary and secondary school teacher. All the while, McBratney dreamed of becoming a writer, and he published children's books as a part-time writer for 15 years.

He's written different genres for all ages: historical fiction, science fiction, light-hearted ghost stories, humorous and authentic family stories, real-life dramas, short stories, and more. He seeks out significant moments of interaction between an adult and "wee one" and describe that truthfully and with a light touch.

"What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person ..." —

Carl Sagan