21 Nov

Shark Vs. Train gets listed — and listed, and listed again!

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The great year-end news for Shark Vs. Train has kept right on coming. I’m pleased to announce that, in addition to the previously announced recognition by Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly, SVT has been listed among the “Best Books of 2010″ by School Library Journal.

My previous book, The Day-Glo Brothers, made all three of those lists last year, so I figured there must be a lot of overlap among them — if you’ve made one, you’ve made them all. But according to SLJ‘s Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog, only eight titles hold that distinction this year:

  • They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
  • Shark Vs. Train, by Chris Barton and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
  • Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher
  • The War to End All Wars: World War I, by Russell Freedman
  • Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring, by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan and illustrated by Brian Floca
  • The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy), by Barbara Kerley and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
  • Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors, by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange
  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
  • Wow. For me, that’s some humbling company to be in.

    But for you, wow! Your holiday list-making is pretty much complete now, isn’t it?

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    16 Nov

    Shark, Train, Abbott, Costello, and “plain-vanilla LEGOS”

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    Kirkus Reviews children’s editor Vicky Smith interviewed me at the Texas Book Festival last month about picture books (mine, and the future of the field according to The New York Times), my next book, and how my kids’ childhoods differ (or don’t) from my own…

    In related news reported by Chicken Spaghetti, Kirkus Goes List Crazy with its breakdowns of 2010’s best children’s and YA books. Shark Vs. Train made the cut, I’m delighted to say — in the category of Picture Books by Authors with Prominent Foreheads.

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    11 Nov

    Shark, Train and me in San Antonio this Saturday!

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    Join me (and/or tell your S.A. friends), won’t you?

    By the way, in between the two events announced in the link above, I’ll also be presenting to the Southwest Texas SCBWI:

    November 13 – 1-3pm – Guest Author Event with author Chris Barton

    You Better Believe It: How The Day-Glo Brothers Survived All the Things I Didn’t Know

    Barnes & Noble at the San Pedro Crossing
    321 NW Loop 410 #104, San Antonio, TX 78216

    “I can tell you exactly where I got my idea from, how I knew that all those years of effort had been worthwhile, and what I learned about publishing, persistence, and fluorescence in the meantime.” – Chris Barton

    Chris Barton is the author of the American Library Association Sibert Honor-winning THE DAY-GLO BROTHERS (Charlesbridge, 2009; illustrated by Tony Persiani), the biography of the inventors of those daylight-fluorescent oranges, yellows, and greens you see every day. It was named one of the best children’s books of 2009 by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and The Washington Post.

    His second book is the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller SHARK VS. TRAIN (Little, Brown; 2010; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld). It has received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal and is a Junior Library Guild selection.

    He will follow up these picture books with CAN I SEE YOUR I.D.? TRUE STORIES OF FALSE IDENTITIES, a young-adult collection of profiles of impostors and other masqueraders to be published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2011.

    For more information about Chris, his books, and his presentations to young readers and professional groups, visit him at http://www.chrisbarton.info.

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    07 Nov

    Let’s hear it for alphabetical order!

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    I’m always glad to hear from Susan at Chicken Spaghetti, but never more so than this afternoon when she sent me the news that Shark Vs. Train has been named by Publishers Weekly as one of the year’s best picture books.

    It shows up at the top of the list, but that’s just alphabetical-order-by-author’s-last-name at work. First, last, or in the middle, I’m delighted to be included on a list that features so many impressive titles. And it’s certainly nice to receive this vote of confidence for a book that I’ll be reading aloud to nine — count ‘em! — different audiences this coming week.

    Thanks to co-conspirator Tom Lichtenheld, and to Publishers Weekly for the honor, and to Susan for letting me know about it!

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    12 Oct

    A bit more about the Texas Book Festival

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    If you’re coming to the Texas Book Festival on Sunday but are already booked (har har) during my reading/signing between 11 a.m. and noon, I’ll also be signing books and giving away Shark Vs. Train posters at the Kirkus Reviews booth at 4 p.m.

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    11 Oct

    Shark Vs. Train vs. Zombies Vs. Unicorns vs. Dinosaur Vs. The Potty — all at the Texas Book Festival!

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    The Texas Book Festival is in Austin this coming Saturday and Sunday, October 16-17. Are you going to be there? Are you?

    I’ll be there, reading Shark Vs. Train at 11 a.m. Sunday in the Children’s Chapter Read Me a Story Tent. Afterwards, I’ll be signing copies of the book and (*free stuff alert*) giving away signed SVT posters left and right. In the meantime, here’s an interview that I did with festival sponsor Kirkus Reviews:

    It’s really just about the perfect picture-book text—it leaves lots of room for your illustrator to go to town with the visual foolishness. How closely did you work together?

    We worked together really closely. Tom was one of just a handful of illustrators that I thought would really get Shark and Train. Once my editor had a turn at my revised manuscript, Tom and I pretty much sequestered ourselves—online and over the phone and together in person one Sunday here in Austin—for a few months as we gave the story its shape. The main thing we had to figure out is just how Shark and Train came to be in this battle. We tried a really elaborate setup involving a piece of coal flying off a bridge and hitting Shark on the head, but finally we hit on the much simpler kids-in-a-toy-box device.

    What other children’s/YA authors will be there? Way more than I’ll possibly be able to see in action (for starters, I’ll miss Cinda Williams Chima, Carolyn Cohagan, Ingrid Law, and Brian Yansky, whose panel discussions happens at the same time as my reading). But if there were three or four of me, here are just some of the folks we’d be catching:

    David Wiesner
    Peter Brown
    Phillip Hoose
    Michael Buckley, John Gosselink, Josh Lewis, and Dr. Cuthbert Soup
    Naomi Mitchell Carrier, Jennifer Cervantes, Xavier Garza, and Ingrid Law
    Carolyn Cohagan, Lisa Railsback, and Sara Pennypacker
    Bob Shea
    Scott Westerfeld
    Meg Cabot
    Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black
    Laurie Halse Anderson, James Crowley, and Bethany Hegedus
    Cynthia Leitich Smith
    Matt de la Peña, Varian Johnson, April Lurie
    M.T. Anderson

    I’ll see you there, too, I hope!

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    09 Oct

    Junior Library Guild would like to See Your I.D.!

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    Six months before its publication date, Can I See Your I.D.?, has gotten a big vote of confidence from Junior Library Guild, which as selected it as one of the books its members will receive next year. (Here’s a quick guide to how JLG works.)

    That’s the week’s biggest news, but there’s been other good stuff as well:

    Electronic versions of The Day-Glo Brothers are now available from Readeo and TumbleBooks as well as from Ripple Reader.

    Speaking of The Day-Glo Brothers, Jill at Orange Marmalade included the book among her “list of five books about guys who wondered and discovered.”

    Janelle at Brimful Curiosities has nominated Shark Vs. Train for the Cybils award for Fiction Picture Books. The nomination period closes this week — have you spoken up for your favorite books of 2010?

    The book trailer for Shark Vs. Train is in the running for School Library Journal‘s first-ever Trailee Awards, and I sure would appreciate your vote. In case you haven’t seen the terrific job that Little, Brown did, here’s a look right now:

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    22 Aug

    Good news from Wisconsin… and New Mexico… and Maine

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    There’s been some great interstate news of late for both The Day-Glo Brothers and Shark Vs. Train.

    Yesterday’s mail brought an envelope with a return address of “Executive Residence, State of Wisconsin.” I last visited the state for the wedding of a cousin who had both Metallica and Lou Reed played at his reception. A great time was had by all, but that was five years ago this weekend, so I was reasonably sure that the statute of limitations had expired.

    Sure enough, the mail was entirely unrelated. It was a letter from First Lady of Wisconsin Jessica Doyle informing me that Shark Vs. Train has been picked as September’s featured Primary book for the Read On Wisconsin! online book club. (See this post from Rebecca Hogue Wojahn for more on this year’s selections.)

    On its own, that would have been terrific enough, but it’s coupled with news that The Day-Glo Brothers is a nominee for the Land Of Enchantment Book Award (sponsored by the New Mexico Library Association and the New Mexico Council of the International Reading Association) and has also made the 2010-2011 Reading List for the Maine Student Book Award (sponsored by the Maine Library Association, the Maine Association of School Libraries, and the Maine Reading Association).

    Many thanks to the folks in Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Maine for their recognition of Bob and Joe and Shark and Train!

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    04 Jul

    My ALA wrap-up, in which I give a civil rights pioneer a piece of gum

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    This time (early) last Sunday morning, I was on my way to Washington, D.C., for a quick visit to the conference of the American Library Association. My time in D.C. turned out to be not quite as brief as I’d expected (more on that in a minute), but it was every bit as jam-packed and enjoyable. Here are a few of the many highlights and otherwise memorable aspects of the experience:

    The First Person I Ran Into at the Convention Center
    My Austin friend Liz Scanlon. If you want to be easily spotted on a crowded show floor, it helps to have great hair. Liz has great hair.

    The Complete Current, Recent, Long-Ago, or We’ll-Them-Anyway Austinite Wrap-Up
    I saw Liz again at the banquet where Marla Frazee picked up the Caldecott Honor for illustrating Liz’s All the World. Jacqueline Kelly was there, too, to receive her Newbery Honor for The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. In the post-banquet receiving line, I met Thom Barthelmess, president of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), which sponsors the awards — I hadn’t known that he used to be the youth services manager at the Austin Public Library. Austin librarian extraordinaire Jeanette Larson was also there, and earlier in the day, I got to meet Vicky Smith, the children’s book review editor at Kirkus, which is now owned by an Austin company. On Monday, I was delighted to see Austin authors P.J. Hoover and Jessica Lee Anderson when they dropped by while I was signing Shark Vs. Train. And it would not be a legitimate publishing event if I hadn’t gotten to see former Austin bookseller Heather Scott.

    Holy Moly, I Got to Go to the Caldecott/Newbery Banquet!
    Eerdmans, the publisher of one of my forthcoming books, invited me to sit at their table and, in the process, made me want to never, ever, ever not be at one of these banquets. At the Eerdmans table alone, I got to meet Melissa Sweet, who received a Caldecott Honor last year for A River of Words, and also visit briefly with and/or holler across the tablecloth at Carole Boston Weatherford and Jen Bryant. Before, during, and after the dinner, the elbow-rubbing opportunities were off the charts — old friends, editors I’d been wanting to meet, freshly behobbled and temporarily tattooed Betsy Bird, John Green (whom I quickly gushed at over Will Grayson, Will Grayson as we were commanded to take our seats), Françoise Mouly (whom I gushed at in a more leisurely fashion over her Little Lit books adored by my sons), and many more folks, including my marvelous agent, Erin Murphy.

    Plus, Those Speeches!
    I’ve been reading the Newbery and Caldecott acceptance speeches in The Horn Book for years now, so to hear them as they were delivered — exceptionally well, I should add — by Rebecca Stead and Jerry Pinkney — was a thrill. It was a little disconcerting, though, to find a souvenir CD containing those very speeches at my place at the table before the banquet even started. So much for being able to procrastinate on those suckers.

    Breakfast #1
    Don’t be surprised, if you go to a restaurant called “Teaism,” to find that they don’t serve coffee. It’s kind of a thing with them.

    Breakfast #2
    The main reason I was at ALA this year was to attend the ALSC breakfast where the Sibert awards (along with the Batchelder and Geisel book awards, plus the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children’s Video) were handed out. The breakfast included coffee (which had become kind of a thing with me by that time), nifty speeches (including one by Mo Willems, for his Carnegie, that really ought to receive an award of its own next year), and the opportunity to say hello again to Sibert medalist Tanya Lee Stone and honoree Brian Floca, and to introduce myself to my other fellow honoree, Phillip Hoose.

    Just to My Left…
    At the Sibert ceremony, I got to sit next to Claudette Colvin, the subject of Phillip’s deservingly lauded book Twice Toward Justice. During one of the speeches, I surreptitiously (I thought) snuck a package of gum from my coat pocket and began to extract a piece. That’s when I felt an elbow in my side and from the corner of my eye saw Ms. Colvin smile. I gave her a piece of gum. I figured it was the very least I could do.

    Books for the Trip Home
    I managed to bring home only two new books from ALA, but I sure chose well (and exclusively from Charlesbridge, the publisher of The Day-Glo Brothers): Mitali PerkinsBamboo People and Karen C. Fox and Nancy Davis’ Older Than the Stars.

    About That Trip Home…
    Around 4 p.m. Monday, after a late lunch with Shark Vs. Train‘s editor, Alvina Ling, I took a cab to Union Station. From there, I took Amtrak to the Baltimore airport, then a shuttle bus from the train station to the terminal. At pretty much the same moment I arrived to check in for my flight, it was canceled (for reasons presumed to be weather-related but which were never actually explained by American Airlines). So, I hopped a bus back to D.C., and took the Metro to back to the hotel I’d checked out of that morning, arriving five hours after I’d begun trying to leave town. I decided to view the whole thing as an unplanned adventure, and in fact I did get to see some mighty pretty Maryland countryside from my seat on the bus. Andrea Spooner’s profile of Jerry Pinkney in the current Horn Book really helped me keep things in perspective:

    Jerry would be the first to say that he’s been blessed in many ways, but luck is not always in his favor when it comes to traveling. Every time I speak to him after a trip, there is a story of wretched flight delays or other mishaps. And yet he always relays these tales with a bemused chuckle, in the spirit of “Such is life! Why complain?”

    Breakfast #3
    This one wasn’t supposed to happen, and I’m not entirely convinced that it did. Surely I didn’t have my most important meal of the day at a Fuddrucker’s in the Ronald Reagan airport at 5:30 a.m. when I was supposed to be asleep in my bed back home…

    One Last Reminder from ALA
    Thursday afternoon, back at the office, I was starving. I had only a $5 bill, so couldn’t use the snack machine. Then I remembered the Luna bar that Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich gave me on Monday between my back-to-back book signings. It was still in my messenger bag, and it was delicious.

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    24 Jun

    Another week in the Times, a new Bartography Express, and more

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    First off, Austin-area folks, I’ll be reading and signing Shark Vs. Train this Saturday, June 26, at the Arboretum Barnes & Noble.

    For details on the event, info on my other upcoming appearances, and other news about me and my books, check out the latest edition of Bartography Express (available online through mid-July).

    Some other big news this weekend: Shark Vs. Train will appear on the New York Times’ list of best-selling picture books for the second week in a row!

    What else is new? Real quickly-like:

    Last Saturday, I got to share the bill with a tank containing live sharks at a party hosted by the Starlight Foundation at this downtown Austin bar.

    I received PDFs this week for the galleys of Can I See Your I.D.?, the cover of which is beyond captivating — I can’t wait to share it here.

    I’m happily submerged in the research for a new picture book biography. “Happily,” as in “I got my kicks during my lunch hour this Tuesday by rooting around in the microfilm section of a university library.”

    My friend Audrey Vernick has a brand-new book out this week, but you’ll probably like it only if you have a thing for really funny books by really funny people.

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