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How to Make a Book

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How do you make a picture book? Well, you need an author, an illustrator, and . . . a dog?!
Acclaimed author Chris Barton and his trusty pooch Ernie show readers how to make a nonfiction picture book . . . about Ernie! From coming up with ideas, researching, and writing a first draft to finding the perfect illustrator, deciding what goes on the cover, and getting every last wrod—er, word— just right, you'll see how a book is made from beginning to end.
From acquisitions and editing to graphic design and dog treats, find out what's required to bring a book to life. This title perfectly blends how-to and humor for an informative look at book publishing. And look, this is part of the marketing step!

40 pages, Hardcover

Published October 5, 2021

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About the author

Chris Barton

27 books77 followers
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.


My new books include MOVING FORWARD: FROM SPACE-AGE RIDES TO CIVIL RIGHTS SIT-INS WITH AIRMAN ALTON YATES (illustrated by Steffi Walthall; a School Library Journal Best Book of 2022) and GLITTER EVERYWHERE! WHERE IT CAME FROM, WHERE IT'S FOUND & WHERE IT'S GOING (illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat; June 2023).

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

I'm married to middle-grade/YA novelist Jennifer Ziegler (WORSER, HOW NOT TO BE POPULAR). Jennifer and I have four adult 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, where I serve as a council member of the Texas Institute of Letters, a 501(c)(3) non-profit honor society founded in 1936 to celebrate Texas literature and to recognize distinctive literary achievement.

For more information about me, please visit www.chrisbarton.info.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 41 reviews
Profile Image for Rosh.
1,444 reviews1,384 followers
July 5, 2021
Kids do enjoy their picture books and board books. But for those curious minds who want to know more about how their beloved book came into being, this book is what they need. The fact that the book has a dog also helps tremendously.

In just a few pages, this book covers the entire process of book development, from ideation to research to writing to editing to illustrating to printing and beyond. Some of the titbits were new even to me. For instance, I never knew that an author doesn’t decide the illustrator on his/her own. I also loved the author’s note at the end where he provides tips to little aspiring writers.

A few of the words are a little difficult for early readers but nothing that can’t be easily explained by a parent/guardian.

The illustrations are quirkily cute. I loved them!

Heartily recommended to all little readers who want to know more about what brings them their beloved books. This will be a great resource for schools and libraries too.

Thank you, NetGalley and Lerner Publishing Group, for the ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Join me on the Facebook group, Readers Forever! , for more reviews, book-related discussions and fun.
Follow me on Instagram: RoshReviews
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,297 reviews2,288 followers
June 3, 2021
This is the storybook for me. It doesn't matter if it's been written for kids. It's for doglovers all around the world.

Adopting a dog, raising a dog and taking care of a dog isn't just the responsibility of one person. And I am so glad the author mentions everyone involved with the wellbeing of his dog, Ernie. And thank you for mentioning the various people involved in bringing out a storybook!

I had little idea regarding what's behind in publishing a storybook.

This one doesn't read like a storybook. It's like a graphic novel. I love it!

And those multiple coffee mugs on the desk? That's quite relatable.

Thanks for all the information provided in this little book. It just made my day!

Thank you, author and the publishing team, for the advance reading copy.

Looking forward to the physical copy when it comes out!
Profile Image for Brunette Librarian.
295 reviews23 followers
December 15, 2021
So not what I expected but still a cute book. This book is nonfiction and it's honestly exactly what the title is. The author walks you through the steps of writing a book about his dog Ernie. He speaks about the initial process, agents, publishers, illustrators, revisions, and so much more.

The drawings are beautiful and made me smile, but the text was jumbled. I had a hard time figuring out what to read when and the flow of the book didn't work. Nonfiction title about book publishing :)
Profile Image for Courtney Jenee.
126 reviews4 followers
June 12, 2021
This book caught my eye because it seemed perfect to bring into my non-fiction/all about writing unit that I teach in 1st grade. It definitely is cute, and extremely informative, but I would need to pick specific parts to use, as it is very long and very in depth. It teaches how to make a book that teaches about a topic. In the classroom, not only do I teach how to actually make books in a variety of genres, but we also write "all about" non-fiction books teaching readers about a topic that we are experts on. In particular, I liked the sections about thinking of what to write, how to become more of an expert on your topic, and how it takes lots of tries and fixing to make it ready "to go out into the world." One of my hesitations with using this book to inspire non-fiction writing for six year-olds is that it talks about all the people involved in the writing/publishing process and that doesn't align with the concept we teach-little authors being in charge of their writing in its entirety. Still, it was great to read a book that was specifically made with kids and little writers in mind and I would definitely consider using parts of this book as a mentor text for my students.
Profile Image for Mortisha Cassavetes.
2,218 reviews56 followers
July 28, 2021
Such a creative book! A very informative story not only about how a book is created but all about the author's dog and his life. I loved this book and the illustrations are bright and colorful. I definitely recommend it to kids of all ages. A really fun read! Thanks #netgalley for the advanced reader copy. Awesome book!
Profile Image for Melanie Dulaney.
1,375 reviews66 followers
October 26, 2021
Chris Barton has written so many non-fiction books for elementary aged kids that have been on the Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee list: The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, Whoosh, and What Do You Do With a Voice Like That? This one is every bit as wonderful. As the title says, in this one, Barton explains the steps in getting a book published, from the kernel of an idea to a final book arriving in bookstores and libraries. But he does it using his dog as the key figure in his book within a book. With Sarah Horne’s every changing fonts, colors and quirky drawings arranged almost randomly on the page, readers will be entertained as they discover how lengthy and difficult the publishing process can be. Writing teachers could easily incorporate this into lessons on the importance of the revising and editing step and how often it needs to be repeated in order to create an end product to be proud of. Target audience is likely 2nd-5th grade. Thanks for the galley copy, Lerner Publishing Group.
55 reviews
June 22, 2021
Chris Barton has become of master of nonfiction writing for kids. This book is my new favorite of his! Explaining the entire process of how a book is made from idea to physical book in the store is no easy feat, but Chris Baron makes it look pretty effortless. Being a school librarian, I read a lot of books for kids. I always appreciate nonfiction books where I, an adult, learn new information. Even though I know a lot about publishing, I learned several things in this book.

It is a challenge to write a nonfiction book for kids with a lot of details and still keep their interest. Using kid friendly language and style, Chris does this brilliantly. Sarah Horne's illustrations are amazing and compliment the text so well that is hard to believe they didn't write/illustrate side by side. I love the adorable Ernie and the comic flair included, and I am pretty sure kids will also!
Profile Image for Novel Obsession.
183 reviews4 followers
June 9, 2021
Chris Barton’s How to Make a Book (about My Dog) is probably one of our new favorite picture books. I can guarantee we will be giving this as a gift.

Barton walks us through the process of how to make a book, from the brainstorming process all the way to the reader’s hands. He explains all of the people involved in writing and publishing a book and the work involved. Better yet, he does all of this in a fun, quirky, and interesting way. Explaining how to make a book while making that book about his dog Ernie just ads to the charm. Sarah Horne’s full color illustrations perfectly add to the story. This is perfect for elementary age kids. Available October 2021

Disclaimer: An advance copy was provided by Lerner Publishing Group. Originally posted at novelobsession.com
Profile Image for Michelle.
369 reviews12 followers
June 10, 2021
I enjoyed this new picture book from Chris Barton. At first, I thought it was going to be more about the research and writing process. It's about how a book gets published which is great too to share with readers. Hopefully, it will inspire readers to write their own books to be published.

This picture book would be great to use at the beginning of a new writing unit and then have the students' work published in an actual book. There used to be a few places online where you could send in students' work and have a book made and parents could purchase the class book.

Great addition to any library especially elementary and even middle school too. As I was reading, I was trying to see if this would work for high school students too. I believe you are never too old to be read to.
Profile Image for Viviane Elbee.
Author 2 books49 followers
October 24, 2022
This book discusses how to write non-fiction books, and includes a big section on how to do research. As an example, the book talks about researching his own dog, Ernie... but research doesn't just involve observing Ernie. It also involves talking to other people who know Ernie, going to a dog museum, reading about dogs, and getting tests done.
The book also goes through the writing, revision and editing process - including the revision and editing that happens once a book is under contract.
Although the book mentions the printing and shipping, the bulk of this book explains how books are developed before a book is printed.
Kids who love dogs will likely giggle at Ernie's appearances in the book too.
Profile Image for Francis S. Poesy.
Author 3 books8 followers
January 28, 2023
This is a fun book about how a non-fiction picture book is made. It has lots of humor both in the copy and the illustrations/custom type. The first half, which covers the research and writing aspect seemed most interesting to me, but I think the whole process is something young people would be very interested in.

My only complaint is that it really isn't a How To book. It is more of a How A Book Is Made book, and I feel that is an important distinction. As a kid, if I got this book because of the title I would have expected, that at the end of the book, I would know how to make an actual book, even if it was a one off copy with my writing and my illustrations on loose leaf paper stapled together. Maybe that just means I need to write a real How To Make A Book book. :)
7,143 reviews26 followers
June 23, 2021
I received an electronic ARC from Lerner Publishing Group through NetGalley.
Terrific way to take elementary level readers through the process of creating a book. Barton uses the concept of writing about his dog to model each step in creating a book, specifically a picture book. Readers see how authors determine a topic all the way through a customer purchasing the book as the final person involved in the process. The illustrations show what is happening at every step. Barton weaves humor through the informative text by making references to his dog, Ernie. Further information is provided at the end of the book.
Profile Image for Kelly Riley.
28 reviews1 follower
August 25, 2021
Chris Barton and Sarah Horne have knocked it out of the park with How to Make a Book (About My Dog)! Kids of all ages will enjoy this peek behind the publishing curtain. The text is simple, but not childish, and the illustrations are so much fun. The little asides about Chris’s dog, Ernie keep the book light and funny. The back matter, including a publishing timeline, is especially informative for those readers who want even more details about how a book is made. I can’t wait to purchase this book for my elementary school library and share it with kids and teachers!

Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC to review.
Profile Image for amanda.
525 reviews30 followers
June 8, 2021
This was such a cool book!! I really like the way the author explains the writing and research process through illustrations, and it's written in a way that makes it understandable for younger readers but also very readable for adults as well. Anything with dogs makes me happy, and this book was especially fun in the way it was essentially a how-to on making a book about a dog, so readers who have a pet can make one themselves!

Overall this is a super fun read that highlights the importance of research!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC!
Profile Image for Angela Rohde.
91 reviews2 followers
June 4, 2021
I absolutely loved this book about making picture books. Such a fun and informative read!

My youngest son is very artistic and has been making his own stories for some time. This book would be a wonderful additional to his knowledge bank on illustrating and making picture books.

I highly recommend this for any kid (or adult!) interested in the process behind making picture books. Very well done!
Profile Image for Bethe.
5,921 reviews51 followers
October 22, 2021
5 stars. I love dog books, and I knew I’d love a dog book written by Chris Barton. I can hear his voice speaking as I read from page one, some of which I’ve heard at an author visit as my school and at other presentations. Very clearly defined process of writing a book, a few jokes and comic relief, zany and appealing illustrations, and Ernie! Perfect way to explain how books get into the hands of readers!
Profile Image for Susie.
1,618 reviews21 followers
December 27, 2021
Very clever book about a topic I don't believe is very common. The illustrations are whimsical and entertaining, and students will learn a lot without even trying. I totally agree with his statement of thinking about the book in so many places and so many different times; I never know when ideas are going to come to me. The detailed timeline at the back was for someone really interested in the process. I was amazed at the many steps.
943 reviews36 followers
July 5, 2022
Although this is a book for kids, to answer the questions about process that Barton received when going around schools, I found it useful as someone currently considering publishing or self-publishing an illustrated book. It goes through the various steps of publishing such a book, and more importantly, at the end says how long each step took for him, in this particular book - and it's years and years. Something to keep in mind!
Profile Image for Jessica.
816 reviews28 followers
Want to read
November 16, 2021
Adorable, funny, and informative. How to Make a Book is the perfect how-to for young readers. Written with colorful and creative illustrations, this is sure to be a hit with young readers. I also enjoyed the additional information and writing/publication timeline that Barton included. I'll definitely be purchasing this for my library!
Profile Image for Katie.
641 reviews1 follower
June 17, 2021
"I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."
This was a great in depth look at making a book. I loved how inclusive it was of all the different job types.
Profile Image for Joanne.
1,133 reviews24 followers
August 9, 2021
Very meta! A children’s picture book about how a children’s picture book gets made. I think artistic middle schoolers and up would also enjoy this light, humorous yet very informative look at the teamwork it takes to get a book like this published.
Profile Image for Dede.
96 reviews
October 4, 2021
A funny description of the writing process. Students will giggle about the references to his dog and still gain an understanding of what it takes to write a book. It would be a great companion to a writing unit.
Profile Image for Michele Knott.
3,601 reviews156 followers
December 29, 2021
Chris is right, kids really are curious about the book making process! Love how this book reveals information that is sure to be new to kids, and gives them solid understanding of the entire process.
Profile Image for Beth.
2,914 reviews196 followers
January 12, 2022
What I love about this book is that it fills a need for questions that students are always asking, which is, what does the process of publishing a book look like. Chris Barton answers those questions in a fun how-to guide, with frequent guest appearances by his dog Ernie
1,246 reviews
March 29, 2022
Belongs in all elementary libraries. I cannot tell you how many school visits I've taken authors/illustrators on where a kid has asked, "Do you put the book together yourself?" This answers all the questions, soup to nuts, about the publishing process.
Profile Image for Jennifer Ingle.
166 reviews3 followers
August 29, 2022
This book is exactly what it says it is. It was interesting for me to learn some basics about publishing books. This would be a great book to share with a group of young authors in some sort of creative writing workshop / class / club / etc.
Profile Image for Andréa.
11.6k reviews99 followers
Want to read
June 22, 2021
Note: I received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Rebecca Hirsch.
Author 110 books38 followers
June 30, 2021
An engaging and detailed look at how a book is made. Kids will enjoy learning about all the people and all the steps involved in creating a finished book. And they'll love the author's dog, Ernie!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 41 reviews

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