If you are a 21st century children's book lover or creator, a teacher or a parent, chances are you've heard of Mac Barnett. The man is a treasure trove of funny, irreverent, anarchic, reality-and-convention-challenging children's books. Just about anything he writes takes you on a wild ride of childlike wonder and delight by breaking the rules and defying accepted writerly behaviors. As a kid lit teacher, I love sharing his work as examples of wonderful writing that surprises and delights. On the surface these books are mostly just tremendous fun, although that's not to say he isn't tender, especially in books like Extra Yarn, but if you sit with his books, sometimes you start reflecting on what he's actually doing as a writer. From what I can tell, he's not writing stories with deep messages other than encouraging us to question assumptions, expect the unexpected, and make friends with your imagination. And in a way, this is a deeply important message, especially in a society that has come to rely more and more on standardized tests that teach kids that there is only one right answer. Sigh. The last thing we need these days in an increasingly complex society needing independent thinkers more than ever before.
FYI, Deborah Hopkinson also does this meta move (story about story making within another story) in another favorite book, Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek, illustrated by the fabulous John Hendrix. So before I sign off with my video review (AKA slight love song to Mac Barnett) I want to acknowledge another super smart guy, Adam Rex, who illustrated both of these books. So here's the review. I hope that you enjoy this work as much as I do. Please I'd love to know if there are any other Mac Barnett fans out there or what you think and share if you think it might be helpful to others :)
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature the fabulous debut author/illustrator Maggie Brown.
And 5th Mondays will feature the wonderful Ave Maria Cross