Monday, September 12, 2016

Dear Readers,

Thank you for visiting Good Night, Sleep Tight. It has meant so much to me over the years. I encourage you to come back often to discover a new story and/or re-read an old favorite.

So far, two stories originally from this blog have been or are contracted to be published. Plus one of the poems caught the eye of an agent! I'm pleased to be now represented by Essie White at Storm Literary Agency for my future picture books and middle grade novels.

I would also like to invite you to subscribe to my author website to keep up with my books, publishing news, and events.

And if you would like to write your own stories but aren't sure where to start, please visit my page of Imagination Prompts. You never know where inspiration may bloom...

Thank you very much!

Happy reading,
Michelle :)

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Rainbow

The screen door squeaks, slams
behind me and a chill, a thrill
grabs my shoulders
and slows my steps.

Like glitter glued on cardboard
the sidewalk glistens. But the colors
I crave drape above me, high
around me. As far as I reach,
I finger paint shades inside me.

A stripe of blue, I swipe and twirl
myself into a hoola hoop.

A pale purple, I pinch and top
my head with a flat hat.

And yellow, I clutch with both arms, 
shape it into a ball and toss it, heave it
above my house

to erase the lightening and the rain.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Holiday Concert

Drum beats, jingles
and chimes. Children

Wood sticks tap cloth
strapped tight, tin balls
tied to wide ribbons.
Red on green on silver
and gold. Eyes open

Voices dance in round, up
and down, shiny black shoes
stand still. Stiff collars,
pressed pleats. Rosy cheeks.
Parents press record.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015


(A slightly extended version from the original that was written for a specific contest)

by Michelle Nott

The final bell clanged. Schoolwitches cheered. It was Halloween break!
Lizzy Witch kicked up her broomstand and soared home to her black cat.
"Where's Spooky?" she asked Mum.
"We never know," she cackled.
Lizzy echoed into the caldron. "Spooky."
She plucked through the pumpkin patch. "Spoooky."
She flew over the chimney and under the thorn bushes. "Spooooooky!"
Lizzy coasted home with empty arms and an empty tummy.
"Soup's on," said Mum.
Lizzy sobbed. "I can't eat without Spooky."
"Who do you think brought in the ingredients?" Mum winked.
Lizzy took a whiff from the caldron. “Hmmm, pumpkin roots, ivy leaves, and thorn stems. My favorite.”
Just then, Spooky circled Lizzy's legs and sprang into her arms.
"You sneaky, spooky cat," said Lizzy. “Happy Halloween to you, too!”

Friday, March 13, 2015

"Home is where the heart is."
"Home is where you hang your hat."
But "home" is not a cliché. Home is what you see as soon as you wake up in the morning. 

Home is where you drink your tea before driving the children to school. Where you wake up in the middle of the night because someone has a fever or a nightmare or both. Where I, personally, make an extra-special meal the night before my husband flies off for another business trip. And, where we toast his safe arrival back home. Which has been almost every week since living in Belgium for the past 11 years.

This village is home. Where we've celebrated births, baptisms and, unfortunately, deaths. Where when we turn down the cobblestone lane, we know we're just about home.

In a few months, we'll drive back down those cobblestones on a brand new journey...
Career and family choices brought us here and will return us in a few months to the US. Acquaintances ask me, “Aren't you happy to be going home?” And that last word always throws me off.

We're not moving to Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, California, or New Jersey where I have lived at some point since knowing my husband. As for him, a Frenchman/Englishman/American, he was only born in Georgia because his parents were expats for a few years.

My twelve-year-old doesn't remember her YMCA daycare that she left at 11 months old. My ten-year-old was born in Belgium – the best by far souvenir anyone could wish for. So, “home” is a confusing assumption. I have concentrated so much on the fact that my children are Third Culture Kids, but I now feel just how much I am a Third Culture Grown-Up. All because of one word. Home.

When we get to Texas, rich with its own history, values, customs, cuisine and, yes, languages, I expect to experience a certain learning curve. I majored in French and studied abroad during college. I traveled. I was a nanny near Geneva. I came back to France for graduate school. So, moving to Belgium felt quite comfortable. The biggest hiccups here have been remembering that I have to go by my maiden name (Every time I call for an appointment, they think I'm schizophrenic: “This is Madame Nott, I mean I'm Madame Ralph.”) and saying “nonante” for “quatre-vignt-dix”.

For Texas, we have a new school system to understand, new immunizations required (which reminds me I need to call for that appointment), and I'll have to take my driver's license test again (in surely a much bigger vehicle than I am used to). Plus, although we all speak English fluently, how long will it take us to stop saying Bonjour to the neighbors? And I must remind the children not to kiss their friends and teachers on the cheek every morning!

When the big yellow school bus screeches to a stop, and that door folds in, yes, I'll remember climbing those steps and hoping there's a seat open next to the nice kids. But, I have never had to watch my children do that. No more rabbit, duck, or fish served in the cafeteria, but hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza. We've never cheered at a football game. They've never even said The Pledge of Allegiance!

Our coffee table books of Belgium, Africa, Magritte, Peoples of the World (Usborne), find themselves now under Lonely Planet and Insider's Guide books to America and Texas. We started watching History Detectives on PBS, thanks to Apple TV.

So, technically, will my children still qualify as Third Culture Kids? Belgium has been their home for the first decade of their lives. Whether we stay in Texas for 2 or 10 years, this European soil has seeped into their blood and will circulate no matter where we are. More likely than not, a new adventure awaits us after Texas, and after that...

Now my original challenge flips: instead of assuring ways for my children to keep up their English, I'll need to find ways for them to keep up their French. Despite what the children will speak between school, church, and extra-curricular activities, we'll be sure to have plenty of French-language books, magazines, and music at home.

There's that word again. Home.

At the end of the day, inside each of us and wrapped up around us as a family, is the energy and space called home. When I go pick up the kids this afternoon, and someone else says, “Oh hey, I hearing your moving home,” I'll just smile, knowing that I'm not going, nor leaving, home... but carrying it with me.
Always up for a new adventure... together.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

On Christmas Eve, Connor and Jasmin plunked down by the window to wait for someone who they new for sure would arrive that night...

Jasmin purred and Connor stirred his hot chocolate until all the marshmallows melted.
“Where's Grandma?” he called to Mom.
She lit the last candle and said, “On her way.”

And Grandma was on her way...
On the train, Grandma dreamed of Connor's happy face when he would open his present. She hugged the box on her lap as if it were Connor himself.
But Connor shivered and Jasmin quivered waiting in the open door.
“Where's Grandma?” he called to Dad.
Dad opened the china cabinet and said, “On her way.”
And Grandma was...
At the end of the track, Grandma was dreaming of bells, and cakes, and snow while holiday cheers and snowflake kisses danced in the air.
Connor and Jasmin danced in their flannel pyjamas that sparked when they slid down the stairs.
“Where's Grandma?” Connor called.
Mom held up her watch. Dad wound the clock. “On her way?” they both answered.
And Grandma was...
In the railway station, she snored as passengers poured out onto the platform... except for one.
After one more cookie, one more story, one more yawn, Connor asked one more time, “Where's Grandma?” and fell asleep.
“Where am I?” asked Grandma to the man who woke her.
“Where should you be?” he asked back.
“At Connor's house,” she said.
“Me too.” The man smiled. He carried Grandma's packages to his carriage, snapped his belt across his lap, and told her, “Hold on to your hat!”
The next morning, Connor tied on his wooly hat and walked past the chimney. Mom and Dad followed him to the porch.
As the cold air froze the red in his cheeks, Connor asked, “Where's Grandma?”
“Right here!” she said, smiling beside the Christmas tree.

What do you think?
At the holidays, who do you look forward to seeing?
What special preparations do you do for their arrival?
Who do you imagine brought Grandma to Connor's house?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It seems like just about any and every thought has a special day or month. Although every day is a picture book day for caregivers, parents, and children, at the very least naming a month after such an amazing art grabs everyone's attention to fuel another year of stories.

I adore writing picture book texts and only wish I had an artistic talent to go with them, but alas no. When I was a French teacher, I would avoid translating at all costs and succumb to drawing a picture on the black board to represent a particular vocabulary word. One day, after what I thought was a perfectly acceptable shape of who-knows-what-now, I turned around only to see 24 puzzled faces. To which I responded/begged, "Un peu d'imagination, s'il vous plait!"

Imagination is the start of the fantastical and of the life-like images we admire in picture books. But I believe words can be the pencils to draw entire worlds in our heads. For this reason, the stories on Good Night, Sleep Tight are written more "flowery"and "descriptive" to start the sketches in one's imagination. And the best part of it, is that the same paragraph may create an entirely different image in my head than in anyone else's. And if I could turn the pages in a child's mind, I bet I would find the most impressive works of art that could compete with any surrealist.

In honor of Picture Book Month, I want to celebrate stories of all kinds - be them read-aloud, wordless, or a simple, yet so important, board book that makes the first connection between words and images in the youngest child.

I couldn't possibly write a post for this special month without noting a few of my favorite picture books. This list could go on for years, but for the sake of space and your, kind reader's, patience, I will limit it to the following (in no particular order).

The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowery
In a Pumpkin Shell by Joan Walsh Anglund
Dolphin Boy by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman
The Princess and the Wizard by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Lydia Monks
My Mom is a Foreigner, But Not Me by Julianne Moore, illustrated by Meilo So
This is Me by Philip Waechter (I love, love, love this book and will read it forever!)
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (This story made me laugh out loud at the book store.)

Some French titles I own with remarkable illustrations that are also worth a look (and read) are:
La Fée Coquillette fait la maîtresse by Didier Lévy and Benjamin Chaud
Petit dragon by Christoph Niemann
La Petite Poule Rousse by Pierre Delye and Cécile Hudrisier

And in terms of characters, illustration, and imagination, my picture book préféré is... À quoi penses-tu? by Laurent Moreau.

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