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How to Make a Book (about My Dog) by [Chris Barton, Sarah Horne]

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How to Make a Book (about My Dog) Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 ratings

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"Aiming to unveil the process behind book creation, Barton walks readers through the steps of writing a nonfiction picture book about his dog in this elucidative meta-story following its own production. Starting with researching and writing the manuscript, the conversational narrative patiently offers next steps: 'My agent will share the manuscript with someone who works for the publishing company that's going to turn my story into an actual book.' The revision process and illustrator selection are covered in turn. Horne offers brightly colored graphic art, including flow charts with speech bubbles and arrows, plus a cast of cartoon-style humans in a range of skin tones, rendered in Indian ink with a dip pen and colored digitally. While publishing staff are not surveyed in-depth, aspiring authors will find the volume intriguing."―Publishers Weekly


"In a clever meta twist, Barton describes the creation of a (nonexistent) nonfiction picture book about his actual shelter dog, Ernie, from initial premise to physical volume. Noting (in a time line at the end) that making this 'how to' took more than eight years, he describes the collaborative work of 'Team Ernie,' a group that includes not just Horne, himself, and Ernie but agents, editors, designers, and dozens of others. In contrast to Eileen Christelow's What Do Authors and Illustrators Do? (2013), so much of this is presented from the writer's point of view that the illustrator's creative contribution gets sketchier treatment. Still, along with individualized portraits of the physically and racially diverse 'Team Ernie,' Horne's informally drawn cartoon illustrations infuse every stage of the project with bright, comical energy. Most of the team members come with generic job labels, and the production of the book's digital edition gets barely a mention. But general readers and budding authors will still come away strongly impressed by the everyday miracle that is the book in their hands."―Booklist


"With some help from his dog, Ernie, Barton outlines the process of making an informational picture book.

First there is the idea and then lots of research: Even though Barton knows Ernie really well, he also knows that he doesn't know everything―a valuable lesson for his young readers. Then, at a level of detail many readers may find astonishing, he describes the roles of the agent, the editor, the art director, the illustrator (and their agent); the myriad people at the publisher who are part of the team that makes the book a reality get mentions too: trafficker, typesetter, proofreader, marketing, etc. Horne illustrates it all with cheery cartoons that depict main characters as White but include people of color among the publisher's staff. Lots of arrows help readers track the process of the manuscript across the busy pages, display type highlighting some of the many, many questions that need to be asked and answered along the way. Through it all, Ernie helps to keep both author and readers grounded with requests for play or walks. Though Barton explicitly frames his hypothetical book as nonfiction, aside from minor details, the process he describes applies to works of fiction as well. Readers who've never thought very hard about what goes into making a book will come away slightly dizzy and appreciative of the complexity of the process.

A master class in how to make a picture book."―Kirkus Reviews

Journal --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

About the Author

Chris Barton is the author of acclaimed nonfiction picture books including Dazzle Ships, Whoosh!, and What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?. His books have won several awards including a Sibert Honor for The Day-Glo Brothers and an Orbis Pictus Recommended for All of a Sudden and Forever. Chris lives in Austin, Texas, with his family.

Sarah Horne grew up in snowy Derbyshire, UK, with some goats and a brother. She then decided to be sensible and studied illustration at Falmouth College of Arts and earned a Masters degree at Kingston University. Sarah has written and/or illustrated numerous books for children and has also worked on commissions for The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Kew Gardens, Sesame Street, and for IKEA as their Children's Illustrator In Residence. She now draws, paints, writes, and giggles from underneath a pile of paper at her studio in London. --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08QD22HLN
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Millbrook Press ™ (Oct. 5 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 9247 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Not enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 40 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6 ratings

About the author

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I'm the author of picture books including bestseller Shark vs. Train, Sibert Honor-winning The Day-Glo Brothers, and Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, which has been included on 21 state reading lists.

Other well-known titles of mine include Fire Truck vs. Dragon, Dazzle Ships, What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (included on the 2020-21 Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List), and All of a Sudden and Forever: Help and Healing After the Oklahoma City Bombing.

My new books in 2021 and 2022 include How to Make a Book (About My Dog), illustrated by Sarah Horne; Moving Forward: From Space-Age Rides to Civil Rights Sit-Ins with Airman Alton Yates, illustrated by Steffi Walthall; and Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music, written with Willie Nelson and Bobbie Nelson.

I visit schools by the score and also love speaking to professional gatherings of librarians, educators, and fellow writers.

I'm married to YA/middle-grade novelist Jennifer Ziegler (How Not to Be Popular, Worser, the Brewster Triplets series). Jennifer and I have four children and one dog, and we co-host the children’s literature video series “This One’s Dedicated to…” in which we talk with other authors and illustrators about the dedications they’ve written for their books.

Jennifer and I live in Austin, Texas, where I have advocated for greater diversity in children's literature by co-founding the Modern First Library program with independent bookseller BookPeople.

For more information about me, please visit

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