November 2011 Item of the Month: Picture Book Manifesto


Picture Book Manifesto

Mac Barnett, a children’s book writer from Oakland with seven picture books and three novels to his credit, wrote the Picture Book Manifesto at the suggestion of one of his former professors. The Manifesto was published as an advertisement in the November issue of the Horn Book. Speaking to Sally Lodge for Publisher’s weekly (, Barnett explains, “I think there’s a lot of hand-wringing going on now about the picture book and its place in the market and in our culture…you hear nay-sayers who think the picture book is over, and too often the pro-picture book response is that everything is fine, that the picture books are inherently magical. And great books are a kind of magic, but kids don’t need to be told that: they already know.”  The proclamation was designed and executed by Carson Ellis and is signed by 20 other picture book creators, including Brian Biggs, Sophie Blackall, Laurie Keller, Jon Scieszka, and Lemony Snicket. The intended audience is everyone in the children’s literature world, including librarians, parents, writers, illustrators, editors, and publishers. Barnett hopes that publication of the Manifesto will spark conversations about picture books and how to make them more original and thoughtful, with a vitality that will make kids want to read.

Terri J. Goldich, Curator, Northeast Children’s Literature Collection