05 Apr

“An Open Letter to Our North Carolina Readers”

I signed the letter below. So did Jennifer. So did 267 other authors and illustrators, a number limited only by time constraints rather than by any shortage of opposition to the recent North Carolina law through which the state government went out of its way to discriminate against its citizens.

School Library Journal has more information about the letter.

And here’s more context about North Carolina’s House Bill 2, the so-called Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act.

Please share.

Final Letter with Names

NC Letter Quote 4

NC Letter Quote 3

NC Letter Quote 2

NC Letter Quote 1

20 Mar

The Nutcracker Comes to America is a Texas Institute of Letters finalist

So many friends to root for!

That was my first reaction upon seeing this year’s finalists in the various children’s literature categories of the Texas Institute of Letters awards.

I’m honored that my The Nutcracker Comes to America, illustrated by Cathy Gendron, is in the running for the Denton Record-Chronicle Award for Best Children’s Picture Book.

Nutcracker_frontcover

But regardless of the outcome next month, isn’t this some great company to be in?

H-E-B/Jean Flynn Award for Best Children’s Book ($500)
Liz Garton Scanlon, The Great Good Summer (Beach Lane Books); Anne Bustard, Anywhere But Paradise (EgmontUSA); Don Tate, Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (Peachtree Publishers)

H-E-B Best Young Adults Book ($500)
David Bowles, The Smoking Mirror (IFWG Publishing), Brian Yansky, Utopia, Iowa (Candlewick); Rene S. Perez II, Seeing Off the Johns (Cinco Puntos Press)

Denton Record-Chronicle Award for Best Children’s Picture Book ($500)
Pat Mora, The Remembering Day / El dia de los muertos (Arte Público Press); Kathi Appelt, Counting Crows (Atheneum Books for Young Readers); Chris Barton, The Nutcracker Comes to America (Millbrook Press)

Congratulations to all the finalists in all the categories, and especially to Sarah Bird for her career-honoring Lon Tinkle Award. Talk about great company

13 Mar

Don Tate goes for sound effects, while I go to the dogs. (Well, a dog.)

The Texas Bluebonnet Award committee invited authors and illustrators with books on the 2016-17 Master List to answer a few questions about their books — not in writing, but on camera.

Don and I each got a little gimmicky as we discussed The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, but we both had a lot of fun. I hope our readers will, too.

21 Feb

Mail call

Recently I’ve been on the receiving end of some pretty nifty cards and letters and artwork from students — some at schools I’ve visited, some who have connected with my books without ever meeting me. I look at all of it, and I appreciate all of it, and I thought you might like to see some of it.

Mail call!

A photo posted by Chris Barton (@bartographyatx) on

I've already seen the first fan art for MIGHTY TRUCK, even though the book doesn't come out until the end of March.

A photo posted by Chris Barton (@bartographyatx) on

More MIGHTY TRUCK fan art!

A photo posted by Chris Barton (@bartographyatx) on

"…it was the best day of my life…"

A photo posted by Chris Barton (@bartographyatx) on

12 Feb

Advice for young writers, tips for parents of young readers

PTO Today (“Helping Parent Leaders Make Schools Great”) interviewed me recently about my own reading and writing as well as about how parents can support their kids’ growth in those areas.

When asked what advice I would give PTOs and PTAs that want to encourage kids to read and write, here’s how I answered:

It’s terrific to know that PTOs and PTAs are so engaged in something that’s so essential yet so easily taken for granted. I would just add that there’s no better investment of time, money, or effort than supporting school libraries and school librarians. I’m a little biased, but I believe this is truly a golden age for children’s literature….We need to make sure that there’s budget to acquire those books, a welcoming space in which to display them, experts on hand who can emphasize the connections between engaging new works and great books published previously, and time and opportunity for kids to discover and embrace those books.

04 Feb

John Roy and George and Don and me

POET

To commemorate Black History Month, the Texas Book Festival has posted an interview with Don Tate and me about his book Poet: The Remarkable True Story of George Moses Horton and our book The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch.

Here’s a bit of what Don has to say about the stories he wants to tell:

As a reader, I was a late bloomer. I didn’t become an avid reader until I was in my early 20s. I started reading more as a result of being inspired by authors like Richard Wright, Claude Brown, Gordon Parks, even Malcolm X and Nathan McCall. They wrote stories about black males who overcame obstacles to make great contributions to society. I’d never been introduced to these stories in grade school If I had, I might have become a reader earlier. I want to tell stories that inspire all young readers, but especially young black males who don’t have as many books where they can see themselves.

And here’s me on my inspiration for telling the story of John Roy Lynch:

I wanted kids today to grow up with a better understanding than I ever had of why there was even a need for a Civil Rights Movement a century after the Emancipation Proclamation, and a need for a Voting Rights Act 100 years after Appomattox. It all goes back to the racist determination to undo Reconstruction, and the recent wave of voter-suppression laws in this country shows that’s an impulse that still exists today.

bookcover-johnroylynch

On the subject of The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch and Poet, it’s been a good week for the former and an exceptional week for the latter. Both books have been honored by the Children’s Book Council and the National Council for the Social Studies:

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People is an annual reading list of exceptional books for use in social studies classrooms, selected by social studies educators. This is an annual project of the [NCSS] and the CBC. This bibliography features K-12 annotated titles published in the previous calendar year, selected by a book review committee appointed by the NCSS.

On top of that, Don’s Poet has won the 2016 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award:

“We are proud to present the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award to the best new talents in children’s illustrated literature each year. These are writers and illustrators whose books reflect the spirit of Keats, and at the same time, are refreshingly original,” said Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. “This year is Ezra’s 100th birthday! So we are especially delighted to celebrate him by honoring those whose books, like his, are wonderful to read and look at and reflect our multicultural world.”

Congratulations, Don!

02 Feb

A special guest in the audience

The first slide in my school-visit presentation lists a number of things I am in addition to being an author, and one of them is “son.”

“Usually,” I told an audience of second- and third-graders last Friday at Holiday Heights Elementary, “you have to take my word for it.”

But not that day. Friday marked the first time that my mom has ever seen me do a school presentation. She’s a former teacher herself, and she was the guest of a Holiday Heights third-grade teacher whose own mother taught with my mom in Lubbock in the 1960s.

(I’ve known that third-grade teacher practically since she was born, which seemed to make quite an impression on the students at Holiday Heights.)

The presentation went as smoothly as you could hope a presentation would go when you’d like your parents to see how much you love what you do. The 200 or so kids were attentive and enthusiastic — a great bunch.

At lunch afterwards the principal told my mom, “Thank you for sharing your son with us,” which pretty much made my day. And which, I suspect, may have had a similar effect on Mom.