Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Meet Our 2019 Conference Faculty: Chris Barton

Meet the faculty of the 2019 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. We’ve asked all our faculty members to answer 4 quick questions so we can get to know them better.

Chris Barton, Author

Chris Barton is 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, included on 19 state reading lists. His newest books include DAZZLE SHIPS, the MIGHTY TRUCK early-reader series, and WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A VOICE LIKE THAT? THE STORY OF EXTRAORDINARY CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA JORDAN. Chris and his wife, YA/middle-grade novelist Jennifer Ziegler, live in Austin, Texas, where Chris has advocated for greater diversity in children’s literature by cofounding the Modern First Library program with BookPeople. For more information about him, please visit

Chris Barton
Chris Barton (Credit: Sam Bond Photography)

What attracted you to children’s books?

My toddler son began asking me again and again to tell him over and over the story of how I had installed a smoke detector. The story had drill sounds and alarm sounds and a captivating plot, and he couldn’t get enough. One morning, it struck me: If I could make him happy with that story, I could come up with other stories, and maybe other kids would like them, too.

What’s the best part of your job?

The community of writers, illustrators, editors, librarian, readers, and other book lovers that I get to share my life and work with.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Balance between time spent writing and time spent managing the business side of being a full-time author.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?

“6,200 words is too long for a picture book.” I had to actually be told this by an editor (at an Austin SCBWI conference!) before I was able to sell my first book, The Day-Glo Brothers.

Come see Chris Barton at the 2019 Austin SCBWI conference, May 18-19, 2019