09 Mar

33 books and one question


Nearly three years after publication, Shark Vs. Train is still getting lots of support from my beloved independent local seller, BookPeople. How much support? Well, here’s the latest stack of 33 copies that I just stopped by the store to sign. (You can order them online if you can’t stop by their store in downtown Austin.)

Now for my question. As I was autographing books, the “Have your next birthday party at BookPeople!” sign was right in front of me. And I couldn’t help but wonder: Might a certain picture book near and dear to my heart make a great theme for an in-store birthday party?


20 Nov

It pays to say “Thanks!”

Yesterday morning, I learned that Shark Vs. Train is among the 2012-13 nominees for the Association of Indiana School Library Educators’ Young Hoosier Book Award. Yes, I posted the happy news in the usual social media spots. But I also took the time to email the YHBA committee chairs to thank them directly.

It took a little doing to find out who the chairs are and track down their email addresses, but nothing compared to the work that the committee did in narrowing the candidate titles down to the 55 or 60 that made the final middle grade, intermediate, and picture book lists. (It’s a good-looking bunch of books. Seriously, you should check it out.) I truly am appreciative of the committee’s efforts, and I’m honored to have now had both The Day-Glo Brothers and Shark Vs. Train on YHBA lists, and I want them to know that.

Besides, I learned earlier this year just what a big payoff there can be for my spending a few minutes chasing down that contact information and sending an email. When Shark Vs. Train was named to the Texas Library Association’s 2×2 Reading List, I emailed my thanks to the committee members. From that one act of basic good manners came an invitation for a solid week of presentations at the nine elementary schools in the district of one of those committee members.

If I had been inclined to see such a thank-you email as purely optional, that turn of events surely cured me of it. Saying thanks for that sort of recognition isn’t optional; it’s a must-do. And I don’t think it’s enough to simply exude an appreciative vibe via tweet or status update — I really believe that the thank-you is more genuine and sincere when it goes directly to the people being thanked.

The bottom line: Authors and illustrators and any other professionals using the one-to-multitudes reach of social media, don’t forget the power of the one-to-one thank-you note.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get this blog post up on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…

13 Mar

What? You thought Shark and Train were through squabbling?

It’s been hard keeping quiet about this, and now I don’t have to. From Publishers Weekly:

Alvina Ling at Little, Brown has bought world rights for Chris Barton and Tom Lichtenheld’s companion picture book to Shark vs. Train, for publication in spring 2013. Erin Murphy at Erin Murphy Literary Agency is the agent for the author, and Amy Rennert at the Amy Rennert Agency is the agent for the artist.

So, what is this “companion picture book,” you ask? Well, if you remember how forthcoming I was when I sold Shark Vs. Train to Little, Brown four years ago, you’ll know just how easy it’s going to be to pry that information out of me.

But I will tell you how pleased I am to be working again with Tom, Shark, Train, Alvina, and the rest of the crew at Little, Brown. And I can think of at least one other person who will be glad to see the arrival of spring 2013…

06 Feb

Love from (and to) libraries and librarians

Libraries and librarians have been sending some great news my way lately.

In the past few weeks, I’ve learned that The Day-Glo Brothers is a nominee for the 2011-2012 Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Awards Program sponsored by the Pennsylvania School Libraries Association, and that Shark Vs. Train has been named to three nifty lists:

  • The Chicago Public Library’s 2010 Best of the Best list
  • The Texas Library Association’s 2011 2×2 list
  • The Illinois School Library Media Association’s 2012 Monarch Award list
  • I just wish that libraries and librarians were on the receiving end of more good news lately. I wrote about this in my Bartography Express newsletter last weekend:

    We all love our libraries — even Shark and Train — but it’s never been more important that we take the time to say so. State and city and school district budgets this year include deep, shortsighted cuts for libraries and librarians and the services they provide. These are bad news for all of us and especially for the children in our society. If we want to be a better educated, better informed, better prepared people, none of us — not one — will come out ahead if these sorts of cuts go through.

    The Texas Library Association has provided this tool for emailing Gov. Perry and state senators and representatives to advocate on behalf of the institutions — and the people who make them run — that are such a vital part of our society, democracy and culture. If your state library association does the same, I urge you to take advantage of it.

    One bright spot for librarians, at least, is the new book by one of their own, Jeanette Larson. In her post-librarian career (though I really wonder if such a thing exists), Jeanette has written the lovely Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas, just published by Charlesbridge. It’s a beautiful book, and I hope you’ll all be able to find it on the shelves of your local library.

    08 Jan

    Look, Mom — I’ve made it!

    My mother is visiting this weekend. Coincidentally, a few friends let me know this week that they’ve seen Shark Vs. Train — with a little-bitty mug shot of me — in Scholastic’s “Favorite Authors and Illustrators” catalog:

    So, if you were wondering how old you have to be before you’re no longer excited about showing your mom the brand-new Scholastic catalog — I’m not sure, but it’s older than 39…

    08 Dec

    More great news (and then some) for Shark Vs. Train

    It’s a finalist for ReadKiddoRead’s first-ever Kiddo Awards…

    And one of the best books of the year, according to Parents magazine…

    And pretty well-liked by The Christian Science Monitor

    And among the year’s best children’s books according to Barnes & Noble and Austin’s own BookPeople.

    The latter’s complete list of favorite titles for the ages-0-to-8 crowd is:

    Shark Vs. Train by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
    A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
    The Secret Lives of Princesses by Philip Lechermeier, illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer
    Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean
    Beautiful Oops by Barney Salzberg
    Art and Max by David Wiesner
    City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon Muth
    Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates