15 Oct

Another weekend, another event with Don Tate (and, soon, another book!)

This Sunday at 3 p.m., attendees of the Texas Book Festival here in Austin can find Don and me sharing The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch in the Read Me a Story tent.

It will be terrific seeing Don again, since we haven’t shared a stage since … well, last Saturday, when he and I participated in our home city stop of Don’s Freedom Tour at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center. We were joined by author Kelly Starling Lyons, visiting from North Carolina, for this celebration of Don’s book Poet; Kelly and Don’s book, Hope’s Gift; and my first collaboration with Don, The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch.


There was a fantastic cake, depicting a scene from Poet, made by Akiko White:


We enjoyed readers’ theater for all three books, put on by students from St. Elmo Elementary; a panel discussion led by Michael Hurd of (among many other things) the Texas Black History Preservation Project; and a whole lot of good feeling among members of the reading and writing communities.

I also was glad to encounter tributes at the Carver to a couple of old acquaintances (and upcoming book subjects) of mine. As I mentioned recently, I’ve got a Barbara Jordan picture book on the way in 2018, and there was the great lady herself:


Arriving even sooner will be my biography of Lonnie Johnson.


Illustrated by, yes, Don Tate, Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super Stream of Ideas will be published next May by Charlesbridge — and followed soon after by more events with Don!

23 Apr

Big doings in Austin, San Antonio, and — next! — Fort Worth

It’s been quite a month, and I’ve got the pictures to prove it. And there’s more to come this week at the Texas Library Association conference in Fort Worth, which I imagine will be pretty well documented, too.

In addition to the TLA events I’ve already written about here, I’ll be signing books this Friday at 10:30 a.m. at Booth #1601. Joining me at the signing will be Don Tate, illustrator of my upcoming book The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, and Jennifer Ziegler, about whom I’ll say a little more at the end of this post.

On April 11, I participated in a literacy celebration hosted by Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library here in Austin:

The event was part of a series of events sponsored by Macy’s, a longtime supporter of RIF. Authors Tim Tingle, Chris Barton and Cynthia Leitich Smith, who all have books featured in RIF’s Multicultural Book Collection, joined the festivities, along with Kay Gooch, a RIF Volunteer of the Year. Families from Book Spring, who participate in the RIF program in Austin, and Gullett Elementary School, who support RIF each year through the regional Read-A-Thon, heard from the authors and celebrated children’s books.

Here are a few of the images captured by AP photographer Jack Plunkett for RIF:

Tim Tingle with Saltypie, me with The Day-Glo Brothers, and Cynthia Leitich Smith with Jingle Dancer

Tim Tingle with Saltypie, me with The Day-Glo Brothers, and Cynthia Leitich Smith with Jingle Dancer

Cynthia Leitich Smith and me during our conversation with the audience

Cynthia Leitich Smith and me during our conversation with the audience

Tim, me, and Cynthia

Tim, me, and Cynthia

Signing The Day-Glo Brothers with my Day-Glo pen

Signing The Day-Glo Brothers with my Day-Glo pens

This past Sunday, I drove down to San Antonio to attend my first conference of the International Reading Association, where I appeared on a nonfiction panel consisting of…

Brian Floca, Meghan McCarthy, Marc Tyler Nobleman, Shana Corey, and me

Brian Floca, Meghan McCarthy, Marc Tyler Nobleman, Shana Corey, and me

mtn-20130421-IRA panel from Marc's view

mtn-20130421-Marc Chris Brian

Ordinarily, either of those events — to say nothing of TLA — would be the biggest thing about my month by far. But April 2013 has not been an ordinary month, because this has also been the month when I married the love of my life, author Jennifer Ziegler.

Photo by the marvelous Sam Bond

Photo by the marvelous Sam Bond

(See? I told you I’d have a little more to say about her…)

15 Apr

Signing times at IRA in San Antonio

ira-20130415-Conference logo
I hope to see lots of you at the jam-packed panel discussion on nonfiction picture books this coming Sunday at the International Reading Association conference in San Antonio.

There’s lots of good stuff going on at the same time, though, so if you can’t make it to our talk at 3 p.m., I’d love to catch up with you during the hour before. At 2 p.m., I’ll be signing The Day-Glo Brothers and Shark Vs. Train at the Anderson’s Bookshop booth, #1003.

IRA has a helpful guide to which authors will be signing which books at which times.

02 Apr

Join Me at IRA and TLA!

If you love picture book nonfiction, you need to know about two jam-packed panel discussions coming to Texas this month. I’m honored to have a part in both of them.

On Sunday, April 21, the International Reading Association convention in San Antonio will host “But Kids Haven’t Heard of That!”: Why Teaching Unconventional Nonfiction Is Important, moderated by children’s literature expert Susannah Richards. The discussion will feature Marc Tyler Nobleman (Bill the Boy Wonder), Shana Corey (Here Come the Girl Scouts!), Meghan McCarthy (Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum), Brian Floca (Moonshot), and me.

Just a few days later, on April 25, attendees of the Texas Library Association conference in Fort Worth can listen in as I moderate The Best of Both: Nonfiction and Historical Fiction Picture Books, a discussion among Shana Corey (again!), Candace Fleming (Amelia Lost), Doreen Rappaport (Helen’s Big World), Tanya Lee Stone (Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?), and Melissa Sweet (Balloons Over Broadway).

The next day, on April 26, I’ll take part in yet another discussion, this one featuring authors with books included in the 2012-2013 Spirit of Texas middle school reading program. Besides me (my Can I See Your I.D.? will be the honored title in late summer and early fall), the panelists will include Jennifer Archer (Through Her Eyes), Karen Blumenthal (Bootleg), Veronica Goldbach (Deep in the Heart of Texas), and Andrea White (Windows on the World).

15 Oct

We’ve got two terrific books to discuss

If you’ll be at the Texas Book Festival on Saturday, October 27, I hope you’ll start your day with the 10 a.m panel I’ll be moderating, “Together, They Could.”

The panelists will include authors Cynthia Levinson, author of We’ve Got a Job, and Winifred Conkling, author of Sylvia & Aki.

But it won’t be just us three authors. We’ll be joined by James Stewart, one of the teen participants in the 1963 Birmingham children’s march that reignited the civil rights movement — and one of the four marchers whose stories Cynthia focuses on in her book.

And we’ll also be joined by Medal of Freedom recipient Sylvia Mendez, whose family’s leasing of the farm of an interned Japanese-American family during World War II led to a groundbreaking precursor to the Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation case.

This will be a fantastic opportunity to find out what writing about history in general — and civil rights in particular — looks like from the perspectives of both author and participant. There’s lots that I want to ask. I’d love to hear what you’d want to know.

02 Mar

People of Austin, you’ve got a job

Well, not a job, exactly — more of a fantastic opportunity.

And that opportunity is to attend this Sunday’s launch event for my friend Cynthia Levinson’s new book for young readers, We’ve Got A Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March:

Between May 2 and May 7, 1963, 3,000 — 4,000 children –- yes, children–marched to protest segregation and to get arrested and jailed in Birmingham, Alabama. Many of them were charged by snarling police dogs and washed down the street by powerful fire hoses. Nevertheless, day after day, more of them–including Audrey Faye Hendricks (age 9), Washington Booker (14), James Stewart (15), and Arnetta Streeter (16)–marched and went to jail. Why?

The New York Times calls the book “extensively researched…[a] riveting, significant work of nonfiction.”

The launch will be at 3 p.m. at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center. Washington Booker himself will be there. You should be, too.

29 Jan

Coming down from a conference is easier with good news like this

I spent last Sunday with authors and editors and agents and illustrators and — oh, yeah! — librarians at ALA Midwinter in Dallas. After an extraordinary day among some of my favorite people on the planet, readjusting to everyday life can be tough.

Two things have made it easier.

First, Can I See Your I.D.? has been named to the Young Adult Library Services Association’s 2012 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers. What’s that about? Well…

The Quick Picks list, presented annually at the ALA Midwinter Meeting suggests books that teens, ages 12-18, will pick up on their own and read for pleasure; it is geared to the teenager who, for whatever reason, does not like to read. The 2012 list features 117 titles; the committee also selected a top ten list, denoted here by an asterisk.

“There is something here for everyone, from our struggling readers in middle school to the overscheduled young adult looking for a really good read,” said Chair Heather Gruenthal. “I am really proud of this year’s committee for their work with teen groups from across the country and coming up with such a diverse list. Only on Quick Picks can you find zombies, superheroes, gangs, ghost hunters, murderers, monsters, goth girls, baby animals, gross facts, and sports heroes all in the same place.”

And then there’s this review of my book (combined with praise for Badass: The Birth of a Legend and The Oxford Companion to Beer):

In Can I See Your ID?, Barton cleverly places readers in the centre of the action by addressing them with the word “you,” as if they are the impostors. Whether writing about a slave posing as a slave owner to escape the Deep South or a penniless woman finding food and lodging by pretending to be an exotic foreigner, Barton captivates, in part because the stories allow him to explore the fascinating psychology of deceit. Each story ends with a sidebar explaining the fate of the impersonator or con artist. At about 120 pages, Can I See Your ID? is a slim but entertaining volume appropriate for middle schoolers and up.


A technical glitch kept this post from appearing for several days after it was written. In the meantime, another kind review of Can I See Your I.D.? popped up, so I’ll quote from that one, too. Many thanks to Kiss the Book!

Engaging and easy to read, Can I see Your ID? would be an excellent way to interest young readers in nonfiction or biographies.

04 Dec

Get thee (or them, at least) to The Woodlands!

My last author event of 2011 is this Tuesday night at the George and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Library in The Woodlands, Texas. So if you know anyone who lives in that part of the world, please let ’em know!

I’ll be giving a presentation called — that is, I’ll be telling a bunch of stories that I collectively call — “My Books Go Into Libraries (But They Come From There, Too).” If you’re the kind of person who thinks that sufficiently funding libraries should be a bipartisan no-brainer, I think you’ll like it. (And if you’re not, I’d welcome the opportunity to try to change your mind.)

I’ll also read a profile from Can I See Your I.D.?, answer questions, sign books, and — with the most minimal of arm-twisting — read Shark Vs. Train. You don’t even have to go “GRRRRR!” and “CHUGRRR-CHUG!” along with the kids, but you’ll probably want to.