with author-illustrator Monica Arnaldo 

I’m so excited to be on the blog today (thank you Tara!) sharing a bit about Bed—the main character from my latest picture book, TIME FOR BED’S STORY.

Bringing an inanimate object to life for a book presents a number of challenges, both from a writing and an illustration standpoint, and this fall I got the chance to explore the process all over again by building a scale-model of Bed for a window display!

Here’s an early snapshot of Bed’s cardboard frame, to give you a streamlined idea of the design:

I wanted Bed’s look to reflect the personality of the character, with the traditional angles and lines of the headboard hopefully conveying a no-nonsense, dignified air. I felt that the fussier Bed seemed to the reader, the more satisfying it would be to watch the child barge in and make a mockery of bedtime.

A few more details and a coat of paint brought Bed’s signature scowl to life:

Next came all the soft stuff: mattress, pillow, quilt. After all, Bed has a soft side of course! The quilt in particular really helps warm things up. In the book illustrations the design is based on a loose interpretation of the old “broken dishes” pattern, which dates back to the 1790s, but sewing the real thing proved much harder (I am decidedly not a quilter!).

The finishing touches were Bed’s stickers, of course! I drew all the unicorns, rainbows, pizza and dinos in marker on some label paper with a sticky backing, and then cut them out and stuck them roughly where they appear in the artwork (which is certainly one way to kill a quarantine afternoon).

And here is the final product installed in the window at the wonderful Babar Books (Montrealers, check them out!). I’m so thrilled with the result, and love this old grump so much. Hopefully you feel better after sharing your story, Bed.

Monica, I’m thankful that you’ve made your Bed, because now I can interview him!

Hello Bed, you’re looking comfy today. You know, it’s not every day that I get to interview a bed! What do you like to do to wind down for the night and get ready for sleep?

Hello Tara Lazar, thank you. It is not every day that Bed gets to feel heard.

Bed likes to practice some calming meditation exercises, or sometimes do some reading if there’s a book open nearby. Anything to try and get centered before the chaos of bedtime begins.

Oh, no, Bed! Chaos? Bedtime is supposed to be a quiet, soothing experience. What is going on over there?

Well, Tara Lazar, Bed’s child has no interest in a soothing bedtime experience, and quiet is not a big part of the routine. Singing? Yes. Yelling? Sometimes. But mostly there are many excuses about another book, or glass of water, or trip to the bathroom. And always there is kicking.

Can you just close your eyes and drift off? I’ve got some breathing exercises that work well. Or maybe you need a weighted blanket? I haven’t tried one but I’ve heard they’re excellent!

Bed has never heard of this “weighted blanket” before—is that like when your child takes all of their toys and several very heavy books and household items and hides them under their blanket as a game but then forgets about them for several days? Because Bed did not find that helpful. Please send Bed the breathing exercises, though.

Besides the exercises, is there anything else you want, Bed? You know, the holidays are almost here!

(Breathe in for 5, hold for 7, exhale for 8.)

Well Tara Lazar, Bed doesn’t like to complain, but the holidays can be a stressful time—all the excitement and seasonal treats Bed’s child consumes can lead to some pretty late nights. So if Bed could ask for anything, it would be a little understanding. Maybe, just once, there could be a bedtime where Bed’s feelings are considered also? …And maybe some new picture books to liven up the bedtime rotation.

Thanks, Bed. Picture books are perfect!

In fact, let’s give a lucky blog reader a copy of your book, TIME FOR BED’S STORY from Kids Can Press!

Leave a comment below and a random winner will be chosen before the holidays.

Good luck!

Monica Arnaldo is an illustrator and author living in Montreal. In addition to children’s books, her work has appeared in children’s magazines and middle grade novels. Client include HarpeCollins/Katherine Tegen Books, Kids Can Press, Owlkids Books, Penguin Random House, Editions Scholastic, and Chirp Magazine. Visit her online at monica-arnaldo.com and follow her on Instagram @monicaarnaldo.