At my launch party for The Day-Glo Brothers at BookPeople in Austin on July 11, 2009. Photographer unknown but much appreciated!

Happy anniversary to me! Fifteen years ago today — on July 1, 2009 — I became a published author with the official arrival of my debut picture book, The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors (illustrated by Tony Persiani).

To celebrate, I’m giving away four copies of the book; details are below.

If you don’t know it already, The Day-Glo Brothers is about the creation of those superbright oranges, yellows, pinks, and greens that are so bright they glow in ordinary daylight. (Hence the brand name Day-Glo.) My manuscript about a would-be doctor, his aspiring-magician brother, and their invention of daylight-fluorescent inks and paints received 23 rejections from publishers before being accepted by Charlesbridge.

Now, that was before STEM became such a big deal in publishing and education, but a lot of the responsibility for those rejections is on me, as I initially began trying to sell a picture book with a text that was more than 6,000 words long. Did I mention it was my first book? Need I add that I didn’t exactly know what I was doing?

The path to publication took just over eight years from the day I began researching the Switzers, which is far longer than I had ever imagined. But it resulted in a vibrant book that received a Sibert Honor from the American Library Association and wound up on several best-of-the-year and state reading lists, so it’s been a long while since I’ve been inclined to complain about how long it took.

That path also led to my long and satisfying relationship with Charlesbridge, which has also yielded Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions (illustrated by Don Tate) and Glitter Everywhere! Where It Came From, Where It’s Found & Where It’s Going (illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat).


And Charlesbridge and I now have another nonfiction picture book in the works! I sent a revision of my manuscript for that one to my editor just this past Thursday, and once we have an illustrator on board, I’ll be excited to tell you all about this new project.

But back to the book that started it all. For my July 2024 giveaway, I’m offering four signed copies of The Day-Glo Brothers.

If you’re a Bartography Express subscriber (folks can sign up here) with a U.S. mailing address and you’d like to be one of those four winners, by the end of this month either say so in the comments below or email me directly, and you’ll officially be in the running.

Good luck! And if you think another reader, family member, educator, librarian, etc., might like to hear from you about this giveaway of The Day-Glo Brothers, why, I think that idea is just brilliant.