Books by Byron Barton

MY HOUSE by Byron Barton
Released: April 12, 2016

"The targeted diaperati will likely be similarly enervated by this bland open house. (Picture book. 1-3)"
A ginger cat introduces young viewers to his personal house and world. Read full book review >
MY BIKE by Byron Barton
Kirkus Star
by Byron Barton, illustrated by Byron Barton
Released: April 14, 2015

"A natural for group storytimes, though plenty of single tots will enjoy seeing Tom's seemingly quotidian world suddenly transformed. (Picture book. 2-4)"
Barton (My Car, 2001; My Bus, 2014) wheels out another conveyance—but sends this one rolling past a set of escalating surprises to a high-wire climax. Read full book review >
MY BUS by Byron Barton
by Byron Barton, illustrated by Byron Barton
Released: April 15, 2014

"A pleasant ride, dissonance between the actual and described setting notwithstanding. (Picture book. 2-5)"
In an elemental bit of grouping and number play, Joe the bus driver picks up and drops off animal passengers on his route. Read full book review >
Released: June 18, 2013

Barton's books about transportation are notable for their spare simplicity and bright pop-art illustrations; here, four gain added value with features that both entertain and encourage reading skills.

Introducing the setting for each mode of transport, the books open simply: "On the road," "In the sky," etc. Each subsequent page then highlights a different type of truck, airplane, etc., and with a true minimum of words conveys a good bit of information about their functions. "Planes" and "Boats" focus on the passenger jet and cruise ship as specific types, while "Trains" and "Trucks" concentrate on what they do. To assist early readers, words zoom up and are spoken when objects in the pictures are touched, and all words are highlighted as they are read; Oceanhouse's signature style is an excellent complement to Barton's simple compositions and text. Young readers will enjoy moving the vehicles, people and even the clouds while realistic (and optional) sound effects such as honks, murmured speech and engine noise play in the background. Extra movement is provided by subtle animations. A drop-down bar gives easy access to the audio options, page selection and information tabs.

Bright, simple and loaded with big machines—a steam engine, a fire boat and even a crop-duster, among others—this app is sure to appeal to young transportation enthusiasts. (iPad informational app. 2-5)Read full book review >
MY CAR by Byron Barton
by Byron Barton, illustrated by Byron Barton
Released: Aug. 1, 2001

Fledgling car-enthusiasts can learn all about the wonderful world of automobiles as Sam proudly touts the merits of his zippy red car. From oil changes to filling up at the gas station, short sentences take readers on a basic tour of car care and maintenance. "I love my car. I keep my car clean." Even the complex workings of a car's innards are rendered comprehensible under Sam's tutelage, giving readers a simple overview of the chassis and body. Barton highlights all the things youngsters find so intriguing about automobiles, such as the marvels of headlights and windshield wipers. He also includes safety tips for good measure, giving future drivers an awareness of responsible driving: Sam diligently follows the rules of the roads and observes all the traffic signs. Lo and behold, when Sam arrives to work, he drives a bus for a living, saying farewell to readers with a jaunty toot of the bus's horn. Byron taps into a child's wonder at what adults often perceive as mundane—and suddenly an ordinary car becomes a fascinating mystery to be explored. The neon bright artwork featuring stout-figured people and objects is tailor-made for young audiences. With a dazzling kaleidoscope of energetic hues illuminating the pages, small children will be entranced by this appealing tale. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 30, 1998

Robber barons and corporate moguls may cringe at Weeks' unperturbed attack of industry, but Wobblies and environmentalists will rejoice. A little man and his small co-workers are happy in their tiny factory, until he gets the expansion bug. They add workrooms, conveyors, and chimneys, but with the growth comes pollution, and belching smokestacks drive all the workers away but one. He bravely knocks down the chimneys and puts up solar panels, keeping the factory running and cleaning up the environment. Barton's stubby little folks, brightly arrayed in tropically colored work clothes, match the uncomplicated nature of this fable. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
WEE LITTLE WOMAN by Byron Barton
Released: May 30, 1995

The echoes of other versions of this tale gain all the invigorating impact of an original in Barton's capable hands. A wee little woman's wee little cat drinks out of the wee little milk pail and is chased away, returning after a "wee long time" to a tearful reunion and her own wee little bowl. As in his previous books (The Little Red Hen, 1993, etc.), Barton's brightly colored, hypersimple illustrations convey mood and action in ways comprehensible even to wee little viewers; instead of the "gotcha" ending found in tales about teeny tiny women or dark, dark rooms, the repetitive text and sweet ending have a soothing effect. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
THE LITTLE RED HEN by Byron Barton
Released: May 30, 1993

Barton, well known for the simple forms and vibrant, creatively juxtaposed colors in his informational books for the very young (Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs, 1989), stays closer to this familiar text than he did in his retelling of The Three Bears (1991), coming up with a good, well-cadenced version. His graphic style is also more appropriate here—the boldly stylized forms suit the fable's powerful logic. In the illustrations, Barton embellishes the tale with activities of the hen's unhelpful friends—they boat, fly a kite, or sleep while she works—and includes chicks to share the bread, which makes the hen seem less self-righteously smug. A likable edition that should be a hit with the youngest. (Folklore/Picture book. 1-6)Read full book review >
THE THREE BEARS by Byron Barton
adapted by Byron Barton, illustrated by Byron Barton
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

An illustrator noted for innovative use of bright color and bold forms turns in a predictable performance. His retelling, a primer-style oversimplification, may have its uses but robs the story of much of its interest; and while the art has visual impact—the color juxtapositions are subtle and arresting, the pared-down forms easily "read"—the characters are not particularly expressive. Attractive but not Barton's best. (Folklore/Picture book. 2-7)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 30, 1990

"Bones, Bones. We look for bones." In this sequel to Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs, paleontologists spring into action—digging fossils, carefully packing them, taking them to a museum, and assembling them into huge skeletons. The single simply phrased line of large-type text on each page gives younger readers a chance to roll their tongues around words like "Parasaurolophus" and "Thecodontosaurus." As usual, Barton's handsomely designed, brightly colored pages draw the eye as his thick, lined figures work busily away. Read full book review >
Released: March 10, 1989

Using an extremely simple text, the author of several informational books for the very young—on such subjects as wheels, airports, and boats—takes on the animal world with a look at a favorite topic: "A long time ago. . .There were dinosaurs with horns and dinosaurs with spikes." Each beast mentioned is represented in glowing, solid, unrealistic color (e.g., an orange dinosaur against a flat pink sky; a bright green tyrannosaurus against a red volcano erupting pink smoke); but the effect is not only striking but conveys a genuine, if very elementary, sense of these long-ago beasts. Scientific names and their pronunciations are given on the endpapers. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1988

In the bold, beautiful style made familiar in his other nonfiction for young children (e.g., Airport and Machines at Work), Barton follows a six-person crew (one—the narrator—female; two black) on a space shuttle mission. In depicting the takeoff; a cross-section of the shuttle with the whole crew in action; eating and sleeping; a space walk (to "fix a satellite and build a factory in orbit"); and the astronauts gazing at the richly hued blue-and-green earth before returning to it, Barton's text and illustrations (outlined in very broad, black line) are models of elegant simplicity. A great introduction to a popular topic. Read full book review >
MACHINES AT WORK by Byron Barton
Released: Sept. 25, 1987

Using the bold, black bordered forms and simple colors familiar to readers of his other popular books, Barton introduces seven pieces of heavy machinery in action (plus people with drills and pickaxes) with a brief, imperative text ("Knock down that building. Bulldoze that tree. . .Dump that rubble"). Except where the verbs give a clue, the adult who shares the book is left to supply the names for the equipment. The very simple images here make the book appropriate to the youngest; its directness is likely to inspire spontaneous dramatic play. Read full book review >
Released: May 23, 1986

Four very simple picture books on modes of transportation. In each case, Barton begins with the empty setting, "On the water," "In the sky," gives a page to each of several variations on his theme, and concludes with more detail on one, such as cruise ship or passenger jet. Specifics are well selected from the most familiar plus the most attention-grabbing among the mind stretchers. But what distinguishes these useful little volumes is Barton's use of a broad, austere black line to define large, bold areas of bright color. Always eye-catching, the design is often felicitous (of this group, Trains is the most interesting visually); and for all its simplicity, Barton includes a surprising amount of interesting, instructive detail. These will delight the youngest, and have enough meat for older preschoolers and beginning readers. Read full book review >
AIRPORT by Byron Barton
illustrated by Byron Barton
Released: March 1, 1982

In the pictures, as in a frieze, children can see what happens when you take a plane trip. But the text is both as tum-de-dum and as literal—as mechanical, altogether—as that sentence. The visual drama, too, is mostly confined to the scenes of arrival: people getting off an airport bus and out of a cab; lining up at the ticket counter; milling about in the waiting room. And there is one little boy, first seen on the bus, to watch for as he makes his way finally onto the plane and into his seat. (The finale is of course takeoff—and the plane disappearing into the distance.) What is lacking is any projection of the experience from a child's point of view (we don't, for instance, go through baggage-clearance with the little boy, we just see him emerging into the waiting room)—as well as any information special to a plane trip ("Up front in the cockpit," typically, "the pilots get ready"). But what youngsters could do, beginning with the people on the bus, is to make up their own stories and explanations; if they've actually been on a plane trip, they could provide a running narrative: Barton's pictures are, as usual, cheerful, interestingly composed, and infused with a spark of life. Read full book review >
BUILDING A HOUSE by Byron Barton
Released: April 6, 1981

You could almost, watching, do it yourself—by carefully noting the steps depicted in each bright, brisk, clearly delineated picture. There's a strategy here: of breaking down the process of building a frame, Cape Cod-type house into distinct, visually-related steps ("A cement mixer pours cement"; "Bricklayers lay large white blocks"); of keeping the verbal information to a minimum, and illustrating the process in its entirety (the cement mixer is pouring the cement into a wooden frame, to form the building's foundation). The workmen are the principals here, abetted by their machinery and hand tools, just as they were in the early Lenski books: "Carpenters put in windows and doors"; "Painters paint inside and out." But, at the start and the close, come those few words that make a house a home: "On a green hill" is where the building goes up; and when "The house is built" (and a moving van is in sight), "The family moves inside." With independently interesting pictures (where does a bricklayer keep his bricks as he builds a chimney? how does a roofer keep his shingles on a sloping roof?) and, exceptionally for demonstrations of this sort, a definite, sunny personality, a very fine piece of work indeed. Read full book review >
WHEELS by Byron Barton
Released: March 16, 1979

Just about the least inventive, least rewarding treatment of the subject imaginable: even the pictures aren't worth looking at. "A long time ago there were no wheels anywhere," the text begins, and then goes on to introduce beasts of burden, sleds (more properly called sledges), rollers (identified only as logs), and a curious hybrid without historical foundation before reaching a rudimentary wheel-and-axle (the latter also unnamed). "Other people saw the wheels. They liked the idea. And they, too, made wheels for their carts." There follows a procession of wheeled vehicles that fills the second half of the book in such a lackadaisical manner that even the simple sentences are susceptible of misconstruction: "There were wheels for carriages with roofs to keep out the rain. . . ." Useless. Read full book review >
HESTER by Byron Barton
Released: Sept. 29, 1975

But Barton's first wobbly-lined picture, of Hester's dining room all set for the party, is the very dream of Halloween that any first grader would delight in drawing for himself, the stock haunted house is not only incongruous but warmly inviting and a little sad among all the high rises, and the sweet old witch's welcoming, well-behaved friends are such a grotesque gang of freaks that the whole adventure proves to be a captivating blend of good cheer and satisfying shivers. Read full book review >
JACK AND FRED by Byron Barton
Released: Sept. 23, 1974

The family of Jack (the rabbit) is drawn with mock-first grade naivete — as a not very human conglomerate of wavery ovoids and doodled faces. They live on a similarly uncoordinated street of primary colored bravura. So it's not at all hard to believe that Jack, longing for a pet, could — by dressing him up in a suit of clothes — pass off a homely mutt as "my friend Fred" and get him invited home to dinner. Fred uses a chair to prop up his forelegs when he watches TV and slurps his food, and kids will surely agree with Jack's Mom that Fred is "a funny looking friend for Jack." Barton uses all the limitations of primary school artwork — distorted proportion, identical facial expressions, exaggerated postures — to create a slaphappy mood, and humans can laugh at Fred and Jack's little joke — wondering all the while who is deceiving whom. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1974

We did not think we could take another picture book about a scaredy cat who turns suddenly brave after one pivotal experience, but Barton clearly asks no one to take Harry's metamorphosis seriously. While his abbreviated present tense primer style text simply lists page by page what Harry is afraid of — cars, the circus, balloons, lions, downs and acrobats among them — the pictures show him uneasily driving off with Dad to the big top, then being lifted into the air by a dutch of balloons, and falling when they burst first onto the high wire then onto a racing horse and at last onto a lion's head — so that "Harry is looking in the lion's eye." Whereupon Harry turns permanently from a scaredy cat to an acrobat, amazing his parents and friends. The happy match between Barton's blatant pop art style and the tone and setting of the story make it easy to relax and enjoy the ride. Read full book review >
BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ by Byron Barton
Released: Sept. 24, 1973

A circular chain reaction of bad temper and general botheration disrupts Barton's primary colored comic style farm when a bee stings a bull "so hard that the bull jumped and ran around, making the cow so nervous that she kicked the farmer's wife." The wife then yells at the farmer, who hits the mule. . . and so the sequence continues through goat, dog and cat until a bird (fleeing the cat) dives at the original bee and sends him buzzing into the identical picture of a grazing bull that we came in on. There's a lesson perhaps for those who seek one, but mainly this pop style runaround is just a quick haw haw. Read full book review >
APPLEBET STORY by Byron Barton
Released: March 19, 1973

In the pop style of his Where's Al (KR 1972) and exhibiting the same partiality for overturned carts and mounting pandemonium, Barton follows an apple (A) which the wind blows (B) off a tree and into a city (C), then down (D) over an outdoor cafe and onto eleven (E) ice cream sundaes whose consequent collapse sends the waiter into a fury (F) and then to the garbage (G). Barton manages to steer the apple past an Indian, juggler, motorcycle cop and even a xylophone player to a zebra (Z) at the zoo who finally eats it, but about half way through the alphabet the apple stops being part of the action and just happens along on the ride. Well, there is lots of action for those who enjoy following those frenetic visual sequences which Barton borrows from the comics. Read full book review >
WHERE'S AL? by Byron Barton
Released: Sept. 21, 1972

Through city traffic that looks like it just emerged a little wobbly and shaken from Anne Rockwell's Thruway, a boy chases his runaway dog as the dog chases a cat. There are a few near misses as they dodge around trash can and traffic cop, but they are united at last in the midst of a double-page commotion caused by the dog: there is a cascade of fruit from an outdoor market onto the street, a consequent altercation between a street-washing sanitation truck and a hot dog cart, and an attendant back-up of cars and crowd of on-looking pedestrians. With no words but the few that come in cartoon-style bubbles from the boy's mouth and almost no details on the black-outlined shapes of primary color, this might be described as minimal pop and it's minimally amusing. Read full book review >
ELEPHANT by Byron Barton
illustrated by Byron Barton
Released: Nov. 4, 1971

In a series of pictures without words a little girl encounters a stuffed elephant in a toy store window, two linked elephants on a circus billboard, another on the TV at home and another in the book she looks at before falling asleep. In a dream she rides the toy store elephant through a landscape populated with various fanciful examples of the species, but satisfaction (relief? resolution?) comes next morning when her parents take her to the zoo where she feeds a real elephant — and acquires a red elephant balloon. Preschoolers will enjoy following the animal's mutations, and the book's three distinct moods (of elephant image, dream and reality) provide the narrative development. Read full book review >