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Mac Barnett

Children's Author

Mac Barnett is the bestselling author of more than 20 books for children, including Extra Yarn and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, both illustrated by Jon Klassen, and both winners of a Caldecott Honor and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award. His picture books, Leo: A Ghost Story and The Skunk, were recognized as The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2015. Barnett also writes the Brixton Brothers mystery series and, with Jory John, The Terrible Two novels. Barnett loves his work because, he says, kids are “the sincerest appreciators of stories, a uniquely receptive and honest audience.”


Barnett grew up in California, and graduated from Pomona College where he studied literature under the writer David Foster Wallace. He was always “obsessed” with books and knew he wanted to be a writer, but didn’t figure out what kind until he worked at a kids’ camp in Berkeley one summer. Barnett would make up stories for the kids and gained a reputation as the man with the fantastical tales. In a 2014 TED Talk, Barnett said, “My job is that I lie to children, but they’re honest lies.” Barnett was particularly influenced by The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.

After college, Barnett worked at 826 Valencia, a non-profit tutoring center that helps kids with with their writing and homework (founded by author Dave Eggars). He later became the executive director of the SoCal branch, 826LA, where he established the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, a convenience store for time travelers.

The Picture Book Manifesto, written by Barnett and signed by 21 other picture book creators declares that “A picture book should be fresh, honest, piquant, and beautiful.”

In addition to writing books, Barnett now edits “The Goods,” a compendium of kids’ games, puzzles, comics and stories created by artists and writers for newspapers across the country, distributed by McSweeney’s publishing house. Barnett currently lives in Berkeley, California.

Learn more at Mac Barnett’s website.

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