Tag Archives: Mac Barnett
Bedtime Stories: How This Book Was Made
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Bedtime Stories: How This Book Was Made by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex.
So you think you know how a picture book comes into being? You may think you know, but you don’t. I don’t think you took into account the pirates, or the arm-wrestling tigers. Or the roaring fires of discarded drafts. No, you don’t know how this book was made at all.
From the mind and hands of Adam Rex and Mac Barnett comes another clever and hilarious picture book. Mac Barnett writes with a number of talented illustrators but his work with Adam Rex is my favorite. I see this book as a companion piece to Barnett/Rex’s 2012 picture book Chloe and the Lion which is another behind-the-scenes peek at the making of a picture book. Where Chloe looked at the collaboration between author and illustrator, How This Book Was Made looks at the process from inception to publication. In some ways, it really does explain how this book was probably made, though of course embellished and changed to make it interesting for children.
When Mac Barnett tells you his editor sent him back the first 20 drafts of the story, you can’t help but believe that this was indeed the case. But whether or not he burned the other drafts to scare away the tiger bent on revenge cannot be confirmed or denied.
To take Mac’s word on it, the process of getting the book from his original idea to becoming the copy in your hands is an incredible process! Adam Rex makes a valuable contribution, turning simple statements like “I found a quiet place to write” and placing the author at the top of a ladder on the top of a desolate mountain. Although Mac insists “it took the illustrator took a VERY long time to draw all the pictures” it was definitely worth waiting for his fantastic illustrations.
Bedtime Stories: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole
Post by Mark T. Locker
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen.
My son, at six point three years old, is almost too old for picture books now. While it’s a shame that we won’t have this format to enjoy together forever, it certainly won’t stop me from seeking out new and wonderful picture-heavy reading material for my own enjoyment and for the enrichment of you, the readers. Especially now that Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett have found each other, why would anyone move away from picture books? There can be nothing but great things coming from these two for a long time to come. And any time Adam Rex wants to fill in for Jon Klassen, that’s okay too.
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole is a charming and painful story. Two boys decide to dig down in the yard to see what kinds of treasures they can find. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that the cross-sections of the deep, winding hole they dig show us just how close they come to finding some remarkable treasures. The drawings are wonderful and make the story what it it. Mac Barnett’s touch for subtle humor definitely helps drive this story too. Truly a great collaborative work between some of children’s literature’s great new voices.
Bedtime Stories: President Taft is Stuck in the Bath
Post by Mark T. Locker.
President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.
Boy, has Mac Barnett been on a roll lately! In fact, this is the second book of his I have reviewed in as many weeks. Based on a popular and neither confirmed nor unconfirmed legend, this book, as you may have guessed, is about President William Howard Taft who famously, or perhaps didn’t, got stuck in his bathtub.
Most of the story is about his attempts to extricate him from this awkward situation. Call in the Secretary of War! What will he advise? (Dynamite!) How about the Secretary of the Interior? (The answer is inside yourself.) It’s a fairly simple and straightforward story. I can hardly blame Mac Barnett for wanting to write about it. It’s an interesting story and sadly for Taft, about the only thing anyone remembers about him. That’s the other thing I like about President Taft is Stuck in the Bath: they address that by first introducing Taft with some of the important contributions he made as president and later by his advisers assuring him: don’t worry. No one will remember this incident in 100 years. Which is of course precisely what most people remember about him now. Poor Taft. Did you know he was the only president to also serve as Supreme Court Chief Justice? Well now you do.
If you are sensitive to illustrations of naked people with strategically placed bubbles this book may not be for you. But as for my kid, he got a kick out of it.
Bedtime Stories: Extra Yarn
Post by Mark T. Locker
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen.
Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen are two of my favorite children’s book creators out there. I’ve reviewed books by each of them more than once. Mac Barnett’s Guess Who? Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem and Chloe and the Lion are all wonderful, hilarious books. Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back was, in my mind, an instant classic.
This collaborative book with Mac Barnett providing the story (Chloe and the Lion showed us definitively that this man cannot draw) and Jon Klassen doing the illustrations is a bit of a departure from their usual style. Nevertheless, it’s still a wonderful book. My son is crazy about it. It reads like a story out of a book of fairy tales, maybe Russian fairy tales.
Annabelle lives in a cold, drab town. When she discovers a box of brightly-colored yarn, she decides to knit herself a sweater. With the extra yarn, she knits one for her dog. With the extra yarn, she knits one for her neighbor and so on. It soon becomes clear that she will never run out of yarn so after outfitting the whole village and their animals, she knits house cozies and all manner of other knitted delights. However, a greedy archduke has heard about this magical box of yarn and wants it for himself. What will he do to get it from this girl?
A simple, silly, and beautifully illustrated story from two of the greatest of the new generation of children’s book creators.
Bedtime Stories: Time Travel for Kids
Oh No! Not Again! (or How I Built A Time Machine to save History) (or at Least My History Grade) by Mac Barnett.
How’s THAT for a mouthful of a title? Honestly, the plot is hardly less confusing. I rather enjoyed this book and my son did too, though I suspect he missed what was really happening in the story.
The main character (hardly a heroine) is miffed for having gotten one question wrong on her history test. Rather than just accept it, she uses her genius to build a time machine and change the past to fit her answer. The question was about which country has the earliest known cave paintings. Her wrong answer was “Belgium”. So, with a little trial and error—it is a homemade time machine after all—she finds herself in prehistoric Belgium. Armed with paints and brushes, she proceeds to paint a fantastic cave mural, since the inhabitants of the cave seem disinclined to do it themselves. However, while she is busy drawing robots on the cave wall, the cavemen discover her time machine and proceed to bring all manner of people from all points in history back to the prehistoric era.
Needless to say, history becomes a little more changed than she anticipated. One the bright side, she got that one question right on her test! On the other hand, all the rest of her questions were wrong due to her effect on history. Like I said, the finer plot points are lost on my son, but the book is funny and entertaining nevertheless.