Two things I look forward to each December are the annual Southern Music Issue of Oxford American (great writing, terrific playlists, and an actual physical CD!) and the monthlong bounty of book recommendations that is librarian Betsy Bird’s “31 Days, 31 Lists” project.
I use Betsy’s lists (available at her School Library Journal blog, A Fuse #8 Production) in a few ways. For one, they direct me toward books I’d been meaning to read but hadn’t gotten around to, or else had missed entirely. They also prompt me to submit my monthly allotment of four new-item purchase requests from my local public library. And I happily tout any inclusion of my own work, as I’m doing right… now.
How to Make a Book (About My Dog), which Millbrook Press/Lerner published this past October, made it onto a couple of lists last month. First, it showed up on Betsy’s inaugural collection of Autobiographies for Kids, and then it was back again on the trusty ol’ (and much longer) listing of Nonfiction Picture Books.
Here’s what Betsy had to say about my book:
Remember that old Reading Rainbow sequence from back in the day where you learn how a book gets made? It featured the Aliki book named (appropriately enough) How a Book Gets Made. I suspect that book is still on a lot of library shelves, even though its 1986 copyright date means that it is incredibly out of date now. Maybe it’s time to get something just as charming but a little more contemporary? When Aliki made her book, digital editing was a glimpse into the future. Now we have Chris Barton to the rescue, killing two birds with one stone. Kids always ask him about how he creates his books, and kids also always ask him when he’s going to do a book about his dog. Why not combine the two things into one very clever nonfiction text? This book is a nice (and surprisingly accurate) look into all the people and work that goes into bringing a book to life. Visually, it’s an eye-popper. Sarah Horne was clearly the right artist to pair with this text. And as an author myself, my favorite two-page spread was the list of questions everyone involved in book production must keep asking. I appreciated that Chris fills the book with dog jokes, so that those kids who aren’t quite as intent on a future career into authorship have something to keep them engaged as well. All told, a marvelous update to the kind of book teachers everywhere will find useful.
OK, now just imagine the same degree of attention and insight given to hundreds of new titles each year going back to 2016, and you’ll have an appreciation of just what a tremendous service Betsy provides.
OK, now stop imagining, go check out some lists, and then go check out some books (or ask your public library to add them to its collection posthaste)!