30 Jan

Voice on three “notable” lists

I’m happy to report that my newest picture book, What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (illustrated by Ekua Holmes and published by Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster), has been named to a trio of lists that are, literally, notable.

Voice is among the 25 titles on the list of Notable Books for a Global Society 2019 put out by the Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) of the International Literacy Association. The group says, “These books for all levels (preK-12) reflect diversity in the broadest sense, celebrating a wide variety of voices and topics.” (Reviews of some of the winners are compiled here.) Thank you so much to the members of the CL/R SIG for this honor.

My picture book biography of Barbara Jordan is also included on the 2019 list of Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People put together by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and the Children’s Book Council (CBC). The NCSS says, “The selection committee looks for books that emphasize human relations, represent a diversity of groups and are sensitive to a broad range of cultural experiences, present an original theme or a fresh slant on a traditional topic, are easily readable and of high literary quality, and have a pleasing format and, when appropriate, illustrations that enrich the text.” Many, many thanks to the NCSS and CBC for including Voice.

Finally, the book was on the Notable Children’s Books Discussion List at the just-completed midwinter meetings of the American Library Association. I’m looking forward to seeing the final Notables list and am delighted that the ALA included Voice in their discussion.

04 Aug

A morning spent inside the Don Tate-Chris Barton archives

I spent this morning delving into various archives to piece together a chronology of the relationship Don Tate and I have enjoyed as friends, critique partners, and collaborators. Our history stretches back to way before the publication of The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch in 2015 and of Whoosh! earlier this year.

I know this exercise sounds like sheer entertainment and everyone’s idea of a good time, but there’s also a practical reason for this exercise: Don and I are presenting to Austin SCBWI on August 13 about our experiences as a manuscript-critiquing and book-creating duo.


As far as I can tell, our initial communication was in a comment Don left on my brand-spanking-new blog in July 2005. And I can tell you that it then took us about 4 1/2 months of talking about having lunch before we actually got around to having lunch for the first time, in December 2005. He picked up the check at Brick Oven Pizza.

Don and I got our acts together somewhat and managed to pull off a road trip to San Antonio a mere month later for the 2006 midwinter meeting of the American Library Association. Here’s the account I wrote about that event, which also happened to be the first time I met my literary agent, Erin Murphy, in person. It was a great weekend that looks even better in retrospect.