Bartography Express, November 2020
Hey there,
First, the short version of this introduction: I've recorded a new readaloud and made it available just to my newsletter subscribers. You can watch that video here.

Now for the long version...
I'm writing this introduction a couple of days before Election Day, knowing that I'm not going to send out this newsletter until two days afterwards.

Wherever we are by the time you're reading this, one thing I know is true for many of us is that we're already trying to figure out what to do about this year's holiday season. All those traditions so beloved and so enjoyed in past years — how do we keep those going under our current conditions?

For many families, there's a particular tradition — attending a production of The Nutcracker — that's unlikely to happen exactly as it has before. But ballet companies have gone into problem-solving mode as they try different approaches, including virtual and drive-in performances. There's even a crowdsourced Nutcracker that the public is being invited to make creative contributions to.

All of that is in keeping with the story I tell in my nonfiction picture book The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition, which was illustrated by Cathy Gendron and published in 2015 by Millbrook Press.

The resourcefulness on display in the first-ever U.S. production of The Nutcracker — put on in San Francisco by the Utah-born Christensen brothers during the trying circumstances of World War II — is both amusing and inspiring, and I figure both qualities are welcome right now.

That's why I've recorded myself reading The Nutcracker Comes to America for this video that I'm sharing exclusively with Bartography Express subscribers for the next two weeks. I hope you'll enjoy it.
It's a big season for book lists, as major children's literature review publications come out with their Best of the Year picks.

(I might just have one in particular to point out to you in next month's edition...)

While you're keeping your eyes out for those, or waiting for news about them to land in your inbox, I thought you might enjoy knowing about a few other lists:

Fire Truck vs. Dragon illustrator Shanda McCloskey and I enjoyed our online presentation last month so much — as did attendees — that we're offering another $10 webinar one week from today.

Registration is limited, so sign up soon for our live session on Thursday, November 12, at 9 a.m. Central! The 30-minute session will remain available to registrants for the following week.

During that half-hour, we'll do a joint readaloud (Shanda will reprise her role as Dragon, and I'll be Fire Truck again), Shanda will balance out October's artistic focus on Dragon with a how-to-draw-Fire Truck demonstration, I'll share details about the Big Competition that was cut from my manuscript, and we'll both answer attendees' questions.

Sound fun? Great! Please register here, and spread the word.

In other news, I've been busy working on revising my upcoming nonfiction picture book about glitter, which has involved lots of supplemental research covering a ridiculously fun range of glitter-adjacent topics.

Now that the latest draft of that one is with my editor, I can turn my attention to the back matter (author's note, timeline, etc.) for another upcoming project — one that has been something of a moving target this year as new events have unfolded that affect how the illustrator and I will tell our story of something that happened 60 years ago.

I have also been involved with the classroom teacher- and school librarian-supporting Biography Clearinghouse as that team prepared their deep dive into What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. (You can even see my very first draft of that picture book!)

I spoke about my Barbara Jordan book with the Howard County Literacy Association and also shared with them my How to Diversify Your Kidlit-Related Lists flowchart.

And I celebrated some thrilling news about a key member of the children's literature community here in my home city of Austin.

Finally, the Texas Commission on the Arts is now accepting grant applications for visits — including virtual presentations — by me during the period from March 15-June 14, 2021.


Now it's time for this month's Q&A and new-book giveaway. This time, I'm featuring author Lisa Graff and illustrator Ramona Kaulitzki's Wonderful You.

If you’re a Bartography Express subscriber with a US mailing address and you want to be the winner of Wonderful You, just say so in a reply to this email before midnight on November 30, and I’ll enter you in the drawing.

Learn more about the book and enjoy my two-question Q&A with Lisa and Ramona (both pictured below). Here's a bit of that:

Q: A sense of anticipation comes through on every spread in Wonderful You. From your own experiences, what comes to your mind when you think of "anticipation"?

A: ...It was deliciously brutal — that feeling of being so excited you're just buzzing, but also hating that you have to wait in the first place. Waiting can be so hard...