Mac Barnett is the author of the Brixton Brother series and several picture books, including Guess Again! and Chloe and the Lion, and the New York Times bestseller Extra Yarn.
I had the chance to ask Mac Barnett a couple of questions about his work and future projects. (Funny answers included!) He will also share his insights with families on the weekend of November 17–18 at the Miami Book Fair International in Miami, FL. (Mac Barnett is Reading with Zach Giallongo and Chris Grabenstein: Sat., Nov 17, 10am, Room 1164)
EA: Do you think kids today lack adventure in their real lives?
MB: Sure, in general it seems like kids’ freedom has declined over the last half century or so. But I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s: I played indoors and was terrified of being kidnapped, so I’m probably ill-suited to harangue today’s youth about the importance of starting fires and making pointy sticks. Most of my adventures came from books, which is the kind of thing a kid who gets pushed down the stairs at school says (getting pushed down the stairs provided the rest of my adventures).
EA: Growing up, did you worship something like the “Brixton Brothers?”
MB: I loved the Hardy Boys when I was a kid. I mean, I wanted to be Joe Hardy. I could solve crimes with my cool brother, drive around in fast boats, and get rescued by my dad, who was the most famous detective in America. But I was an only child and a poor swimmer, and my dad is a dermatologist.
EA: Are fictional heroes more reliable than real-life ones (who can often let you down)?
MB: Well, I think that there’s something ultimately disappointing about the reliable heroism of characters like the Hardy Boys. They are unfailingly, unattainably perfect, so the books end up making promises that the real world can’t keep. As much as I loved Frank and Joe, I left those guys behind for characters with flaws. That’s one thing that the Brixton Brothers is about, actually: a kid who is trying to learn what it means to be an adult from detective books, which is a terrible way to get that kind of information. (Detective books aren’t even a good place to learn about being a detective.)
EA: Do you see your projects making it on to the big screen?
MB: I guess the question is whether Hollywood’s assorted moguls see my projects making it on to the big screen, and those moguls don’t really seem to care what I think. A book I made with two friends, Eli Horowitz and Scott Teplin, called The Clock Without a Face, is currently in development, which I think means there’s a chance you could see it in theaters Summer 2058.