Nov 172014

Author Guest Post

Hi readers!  I’m so excited to welcome author Kate Coombs to Austenesque Reviews today!  Kate is here to celebrate her latest release, Goodnight Mr. Darcy, which, if you didn’t already know is a Baby-Lit parody of Goodnight Moon Thank you, Kate for stopping by Austenesque Reviews!

Your favorite book is Pride and Prejudice, your favorite hero is proud (but secretly not so bad) Mr. Darcy and your favorite heroine is proud (but actually quite likable) Elizabeth Bennet. There’s a nice long book about these two—just under 122,000 words—and you love-love-love it!Goodnight Mr. Darcy

Now, can you tell their story in a slightly shorter format? Say, 50,000 words? 5,000 words? What about 130 words?

That was the task I took on a year ago. Oh, and it had to be a bedtime story that sounded very much like Goodnight Moon. Gibbs Smith Associate Publisher Suzanne Taylor called me and said, “How would you like to do a parody of Pride and Prejudice and Goodnight Moon called Goodnight Mr. Darcy?”

Naturally, being a respectful Austen admirer, I started laughing. Then I said sure, that would be great. And it was on.

Being of a Cinderella mind frame, I knew I wanted to tell about a ball. Being a tad short on pages, I decided to combine the assembly where Jane and Elizabeth first meet Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley with the Netherfield Ball. Instead of the “great green room” with which Goodnight Moon begins, I would write about “the great ballroom.” Elizabeth Bennet would be poised at the door, about to have the rather irritating encounter that would change her life.

Goodnightmoon goodnight-moon_3

And isn’t that what happens when a story begins, whether it’s as short as a fairy tale like Cinderella or as long as Jane Austen’s famous novel? Readers and main character alike are poised at the door to the ballroom, ready for their lives to change.

What else matters? What else should be shown? The comic relief of Lydia and Kitty flirting with officers, something that wouldn’t turn darker till much deeper into the book. The equally comic relief of pompous Mr. Collins (our “buffoon”), and of Mrs Bennet with her loud, hopeful gossip. I’m sure you’ve noticed that each of these characters has their own version of pride, as do Mary and Mr. Bennet. There’s pride all over the place in this book!

Now, Jane and Mr. Bingley matter a great deal in telling the story, their romance proceeding in a gentle parallel to the gathering storm of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s relationship. Both girls will have their hearts broken, defeated by pride and prejudice. Both will have them mended.

Originally, I imagined the entire book taking place at or around the Netherfield Ball. For the next-to-last scene in the book, a crucial one, I pictured Mr. Darcy in front of Netherfield, watching Elizabeth drive away in a carriage with her family. It seemed to suit the words.

But the illustrator, Alli Arnold, wisely moved us away from Netherfield to Longbourn after the ball, where we find the girls sighing over the young men they’ve met and Mrs. Bennet tucking her husband into bed.

The editor asked me what I thought should go on that next-to-last spread now that we weren’t going to do the carriage scene. Having set my thoughts free to consider the entire rest of the novel, I had to come up with an iconic moment that would show, well, everything.

What would you choose?

For me the great turning point of the book is not Mr. Darcy’s final proposal, lovely though that may be. It’s not Mr. Darcy coming to Elizabeth’s rescue when she is at the inn near Pemberley. No, it’s the letter. The letter that opens Elizabeth’s mind, illuminating both her pride and her prejudice.

Alli took the idea of the letter scene and ran with it. And so our key picture book spread shows Elizabeth reading the letter, with Mr. Darcy standing there as if he had just handed it to her and were waiting for her response.

My favorite lines are on those pages—“Goodnight Mr. Darcy/Goodnight pride.” Goodbye pride, of course, because both Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have left their pride behind. We turn the page and see a wedding. We read the final words, “Goodnight Elizabeth/Goodnight bride.”

Of course, Alli and I had to have a little fun. The mouse that appears in much of the artwork in Goodnight Moon is here and finds a friend, or actually a fiancé: the two are shown in their own little wedding portrait on the page just after the wedding scene and again on the back cover.

Can Pride and Prejudice be retold in a picture book parody? Not really. But we had a wonderful time capturing some of the best moments from Austen’s best-loved novel in the small frame created by Margaret Wise Brown’s children’s classic Goodnight Moon.

Goodnight, Austenites.

Thank you for sharing the story with us, Kate!  What an undertaking!  Love the idea of sharing Jane Austen and the joys her novels and charactes bring with such a young audience!  Mr. Bingley and I will definitely want to do that when we have our own little ones, one day! 🙂  



The kind people at Gibbs Smith have kindly donated ONE lovely hardcover copy of Goodnight Mr. Darcy for me to give away to ONE lucky winner!

Goodnight Mr. Darcy

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment, question, or some love for Kate!

  • This giveaway is open for US residents.  Thank you, Gibbs Smith!
  • This giveaway ends November 24th!
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  32 Responses to “Guest Post + Giveaway with Kate Coombs”


    OH MY GOODNESS! LOVE THIS! One of my daughters found P & P and Sense & Sensibility opposite books but we haven’t seen this yet! I know what is going in stockings this year!


    Oh this is just too cute! I’m looking forward to your review, Meredith. My four year old liked Good Night Moon when he was little, and he knows about how Mommy likes Jane Austen and Mr. Darcy, so reading him this book is sort of a no brainier.


    What lovely, lovely content for a children’s book. Well done! My six year old granddaughter is a reader and would love this very much. “Goodnight Pride” “Goodnight Bride”? Sigh!


    Oh I absolutely love the style of Goodnight Moon. What a great idea to make a Goodnight Mr. Darcy. That is awesome!! I would love to win one for my little ones. (I have 7 kids)
    Thanks for the chance.


    I absolutely love this idea. I’ve always loved reading Goodnight Moon to my daughter. What a great way to foster a love of Jane Austen in her.


    Oh, my heart is already pounding for this Good Night Mr. Darcy. Goodnight Moon is a favorite, and your book will be a treasure, too. The cover illustration is incredible, and I look forward to the other ones. Thank you for sharing how you crafted our beloved P&P classic into a new parody. It is a wonderful way to introduce children to the classics and to add a new dimension to the classics for adults. Thank you for the giveaway.


    This is already on my Xmas list for my two girls. I love the kids books that are loosely based on the classics.


    I have this book on my ‘wishlist’ for my granddaughter. I am not familiar with ‘Goodnight Moon’ but I think this book is delightful. Thank you for sharing how this book came about. I am slowly building up her library…1st Christmas last year-‘Pride and Prejudice’ that includes cardboard cut outs; Christmas this year – ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Can’t start to early!


    Oh my goodness, how utterly charming and delightful! I’d definitely love to be entered for the giveaway 🙂


    What a wonderful idea. This is a great way to share a love of books with children.


    Such a cute idea. I’m crossing my fingers!


    Eeeekk! I’ve been super excited to read this. I tried to get it at my local bookstore but was unable to, so I was going to try Amazon and hinted to the hubby I’d love to get a copy for Christmas. Love the idea and it looks super cute. We have a newborn so it is a perfect excuse to get a kids book, not that it would be for me or anything… 🙂 Congrats on the new book, I can’t wait to read it, and thanks for the chance to win a copy.


    I already bought P&P and S&S for my granddaughter but would love to add this to her collection. Actually, I plan to buy it for both my grandson and my granddaughter – win or not.


    What a delightful idea! I would love to read this


    Love that you had fun creating a way to introduce little ones to one of literature’s classic. It’s never to early to read P&P.


    Goodnight Mr. Darcy – how wonderful! Goodnight Moon was one of my now grown son and daughter’s favorite and I still have the worn book in a box with other childhood memories. Thanks for the giveaway! –Leslie


    What a fun idea and a great way to open the story up to much younger readers! Thank you.


    Wonderful feature. Reading to the children and now the grandchildren is wonderful.


    So cute! I’m curious to read this one as I love both books that it is based one.


    I love this so much! It will definitely be my go-to baby shower gift!


    Love this! My girls ready Goodnight Moon every night, we now need Goodnight Mr. Darcy!!!


    I love Good Night Moon, and I love all things Jane Austen even more – so I can’t wait to read this one!


    SO sweet!


    BabyLit is a great company, I have so many of their books for my little one, and this one is on our list too.


    What a beautiful idea for a children’s book! I will most certainly be purchasing this for my niece for Christmas!


    Love this! I NEEDS to be added to my P&P collections do finalize my BabyLit collection! Can we say stocking stuffer?!? Eepp


    I loved reading this book to my kids. Also to the kids I work with at Mother’s Day out. I’m happy to see this in a Jane Austen parody!!


    This sounds like a wonderful retelling that would be wonderful for my nursery school class to introduce them to Pride and Prejudice as one of their favorites books oa Goodnight Moon.


    I am so excited about this book. I adore the concept and would be thrilled to own a copy. P&P is (no surprise here) my favorite novel, and Goodnight Moon is my favorite storybook to read to children. A great many people have told me of late that my new novel, Jane Austen’s First Love, although intended for fans of Austenesque fiction, historical fiction, and romance, is also the perfect way to introduce young adult readers to Jane Austen…and I believe your book Good Night Mr Darcy is the ideal way to introduce very young children to Jane Austen! Bravo!! I’m going to tweet and facebook about this for you right now! 🙂


    I LOVE this! I wish my other Jane Austen freak friend was having a baby – this would be the gift to end all gifts!!

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