The children’s book and legislative worlds converged—if obliquely—in Texas earlier this month, when San Antonio Councilman John Courage filed a Council Consideration Request to create new local rules limiting loud construction operations near homes at night. The politician is obviously plugged into the picture-book scene: he dubbed his initiative “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site” in honor of Sherri Duskey Rinker’s popular 2011 bedtime book.
According to an article in the Rivard Report, a local online news source, the San Antonio area expects to add an additional one million residents by 2040, “but that growth comes with a lot of noise and some residents are tired of losing sleep over it.” The article quoted Courage’s statement, delivered at a press conference, that he appreciates San Antonio’s thriving residential construction industry, “but there has to be reasonableness about this kind of development.”
Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld and published by Chronicle, the bestselling Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site paved the way for a series of picture and board books, including 2017’s Mighty, Mighty Construction Site, also illustrated by Lichtenheld; and Construction Site on Christmas Night (2018) and the upcoming Three Cheers for Kid McGear! (due September 24), both illustrated by AG Ford. The series has built sky-high sales for the publisher, which reports a tally of more than five million copies sold.
Rinker, whose debut book was plucked from Chronicle’s slush pile, expressed amazement at—and gratitude for—the soaring trajectory her series has taken. “When I sent my manuscript to Chronicle, I had no real hope that it would be acquired, so when I received an offer, I was completely thrilled just to be published,” she told PW. “I figured that I might sell a few hundred books to friends and family, and that was a solidly satisfying idea. So, to have Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site not only become a bestseller, but to have it extend into a successful series and have its title tossed out to describe proposed legislation—I mean, come on!”
Rinker is eager to introduce fans to the newest member of the construction site crew, the title heroine of Three Cheers for Kid McGear!, a small machine who proves her mettle when a steep cliff poses a danger to the other trucks. “She’s our first breakout character, and it was incredibly fun to develop her personality and mindset,” Rinker said. “The story is told from two angles, with two different messages: Kid McGear’s message is about coming into a new situation with wisdom and confidence. And, from the construction team’s point of view, the message is about being open-minded to others and embracing the new kid.”
Rinker reiterated her incredulity at Councilman Courage’s nod to her debut book with the title of his proposed bill. When Chronicle shared the announcement with her, she said, “It’s pretty unreal to think that something I created for children—my own children, in fact—has become such a part of mainstream language. To say that this is beyond my wildest dreams—that’s an understatement.”