Bedtime for Jackie Leigh’s son, Marshall, was not always a problem.
If you go:
What: Saturday Family Storytime with author Jacqueline Leigh
Where: Post Road Library
When: Saturday, July 15, 11:15 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Cost: Free, no registration required
About a year ago, however, the then-3 year old told his mom he didn’t want to go to sleep.
“He said, ‘I don’t know where you are when I’m asleep or what you’re doing or if you’re even in the house,” Leigh said. “He has a little bunny he sleeps with and I told him he could go to sleep and dream about an adventure with his bunny.
“But he didn’t even know what a dream is – he just had zero clue, and I said, ‘OK, that’s my book.’”
The 2003 Forsyth Central graduate, in collaboration with another former Central student, Mackenzie Fink, recently published her first book, titled “Time for Bed with Ford and Red.”
The children’s tale follows a young boy, Ford, and his stuffed animal bunny, Red, on their nighttime dream-induced journeys.
Leigh said her inspiration came directly from her son’s bedtime dilemma, as well as a desire to teach him, and other young children, about dreaming.
“I got my degree in journalism from Valdosta State University,” she said. “My goal was to be a reporter or work on magazines or in advertising, but I did all that and was never fulfilled or reached my peak happiness.
“I always found something to drag me down and I wanted to re-collect myself and find that happiness, so after I had [Marshall,] I took a break from the workforce and sat down and was thinking I wanted to write a book.”
That night with her son, Leigh said, solidified her decision.
“After putting him to sleep, I sat down and I wrote a really quick rough draft that introduced my main characters,” she said. “You go to sleep, you dream, you wake up, and things are still the same.
“In the book, you turn the page and there’s a new adventure, then you turn to the next page and Ford is back in bed, though each time, he takes something with him from the dream. They’re on a pirate ship in one [scene] and his sheets are drenched in water from that adventure. It’s just this really interesting dream state to reality sequence.”
Leigh said the book is about more than just bedtime dreams, though.
“I’m also using it as a tool to teach [my kids] about dreaming in your everyday life,” she said. “I want them to know that right here in this backyard, you can do whatever you want – you can have adventures when you’re awake, too.
“The book is both for kids who need help sleeping at night and those who need more enrichment.”
While she hasn’t yet presented the book to her son, Leigh said she plans to when the time is right.
“I’m really excited for him to see characters,” she said. “I haven’t shown him yet … he’s my biggest critic, so maybe I’m just waiting for that really special moment when I can give him the book and say, ‘I wrote this for you and I wrote this because you had trouble sleeping.’
“But my daughter – she’s 2 and I think she’ll love the book too; it’s really made for infancy all the way up to ages 8-10.”
Leigh is currently working on a second book, “The girl who jumped off the page.”
“The very first book I wrote was in second grade at Cumming Elementary,” she said. “A local author came and did a school visit and we got to write our own books and do our own illustrations, and my book was titled ‘The dog who jumped over the house.’
“My mom said when I came home that day with that book, I said ‘this is what I want to do’ and I said when I was a famous author, to hold the book. I’m not famous but I am a published author and I think it’s a funny coincidence my next book is similar in title to [the second grade] book.”
Leigh will visit the Post Road Library on July 15 to present and sign her book and read it at the library’s Saturday storytime event.
For more information about the visit, visit forsythpl.org.