25 Jan

An observation (not mine) about Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!

For my school visits, I often have a variety of my books displayed on a table so that students will notice them when entering the library. I figure it’s a good way to get them to start thinking about questions they may have for me.

Usually, the table is behind me while I’m presenting, but at a visit earlier this week, the table was on one side of the room next to the audience. (You: “Chris, please tell me more about how the furniture was arranged!”)

For one of the sessions that morning, an autistic student happened to sit right by the spot on the table where my book Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet was displayed.

He was *very* interested in Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! From the front of the room I noticed that he had taken the book from the table, and that some of his classmates were trying to put it back.

I didn’t mind him having a look at the book. What worried me were the other kids’ efforts to intervene, even if well-intentioned. “Please,” I thought, “let’s not make an issue of this.”

The librarian then sat down next to this student, and she handed him the book. (Me: “Whew!”) For the first part of my presentation, he was captivated by my book in his hands. Eventually, Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! went back onto the table.

Then came Q&A. The autistic student’s hand went up — emphatically — and I soon called on him. But he didn’t have a question — he had an observation.

His observation was that the fonts used for “Attack,” “Boss,” and “Cheat Code,” respectively, corresponded to the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.

I thanked the boy and said that the significance of the fonts had not occurred to me, but that it didn’t surprise me.

I told him that the illustrator, Joey Spiotto, knew a lot more about video games than I did and had inserted plenty of gaming references that went over my head. Joey’s art added so many dimensions to this book.

But (and I didn’t say this to the student) I didn’t know for sure whether his observation was accurate. I knew who to ask, though.

So I messaged Joey, passing along the details of the student’s discovery. Then I asked, “I’d never thought of that before – is that how you see it? Was he onto something?”

The reply from Joey: “That was a VERY astute observation on his part!

Joey continued, “I wish I could have said that I planned it that way, but I didn’t. Maybe in my subconscious somewhere, but that’s one of those happy accidents. Amazing that he pointed that out!”

That whole thing has been the highlight of my week. I gotta arrange the furniture that way more often.

20 Dec

Podcast interview: Life. Leadership. Video Games. And me.

Classically Trained

I really enjoyed my conversation this fall with Jon Harrison, author the upcoming book Mastering The Game: What Video Games Can Teach Us About Success In Life, who interviewed me for his ClassicallyTrained podcast (“Life. Leadership. Videogames”).

We got to talk about video games (of course), fatherhood, Joey Spiotto’s art, the diversity of characters represented in Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet, the trickiest letter in the book (not Q, X, or Z), my Games & Books & Q&A interview series, and my earliest experiences as a reader and writer.

And let the record show that I caught myself (eventually) after declaring that there are 28 letters in the alphabet.

11 Dec

Not a bad 24 hours for Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!

The past day has brought this review from game developer and enthusiast Eduardo Baraf:

And this appreciation (and giveaway!) of Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet from librarian Margie Myers-Culver:

Games, video games, can foster creativity, problem solving skills, desire to increase knowledge about a specific subject, healthy competition, and connections with like-minded people. Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet (POW!, October 14, 2014) written by Chris Barton with illustrations by Joey Spiotto is a guide every gamer will enjoy. It’s a starting point to promote understanding of the basics.

And this inclusion of A Gamer’s Alphabet in the “For Early Career Guidance” section of the Austin Chronicle‘s Video Game Gift Guide:

Local author Chris Barton guides your game-obsessed 8- to 12-year-old to the engrossing world of books. Each illustrated page features a term that may or may not be familiar to little joystick jockeys. It might even help adults understand what their kids mean when they talk about “griefers” and “sandboxes.”

In addition, if you act fast, you can get a signed, personalized copy of Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! sent directly to the gamer(s) on your holiday gift list.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who have shown your support for Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! You’re all top scorers in my book.

23 Nov

Bartography Express for November 2014, featuring K.A. Holt’s Rhyme Schemer

This month, one subscriber to my Bartography Express newsletter will win a copy of Rhyme Schemer (Chronicle), the new middle-grade novel in verse by Kari Anne Holt.

If you’re not already receiving Bartography Express, click the image below for a look. If you like what you see, click “Join” in the bottom right corner, and you’ll be in the running for the giveaway at the end of this week.

20141120 Bartography Express

30 Oct

Some things I learned from writing Shark Vs. Train and Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!

Attack Boss Cheat Code - May 2014

SharkVTrain_FINAL

I’ve got a new guest-post at Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Cynsations blog on the roles my kids played (and they roles they didn’t) in the creation of my picture books Shark Vs. Train and Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet.

Here’s a smidge of what I say:

Every book is an opportunity to navigate that territory in the middle, between what we adults want and love and think we know and what those kids want and love and think they know.

Through my experiences with Shark Vs. Train and Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!, I’ve come to appreciate just how much room there is to maneuver through that middle ground.


To read the rest, please visit Cynsations

22 Oct

Bartography Express for October 2014, featuring Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet

How many copies of my new book, Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet, am I giving away this month to subscribers of my monthly newsletter?

Three.

How many opportunities do readers have between now and November 1 to help me celebrate my new book?

Two.

And how many illustrators of Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! participate in this issue’s Q&A?

One.

(OK, so, that one was easy, since there’s only one Joey Spiotto.)

That’s an extremely high-level summary of what you’ll find in this month’s Bartography Express. If you’re not already receiving Bartography Express, click the image below for a look. If you like what you see, click “Join” in the bottom right corner, and you’ll be in the running for this month’s giveaway.

20141020 Bartography Express

15 Oct

Make art, celebrate video games, win a book!

Joey Spiotto contest

Joey Spiotto, the illustrator of Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet, has got a kid-friendly, art-loving, videogame-celebrating book giveaway going on.

He’s taking contest entries via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I understand that I’m disqualified, but you may know someone eligible — maybe even a classroom or library full of eligible someones…