Barretta, Gene

views updated

Barretta, Gene


Born in Yardley, PA; married; wife's name Leslie; children: Benjamin. Education: New York University, B.F.A. (film studies).


Agent—c/o Lori Nowicki, Painted-Words, 310 W. 97th St., New York, NY 10025. E-mail—[email protected].


Children's book author and illustrator and animator. Has created animation for film and television, including for Sesame Street.



On Top of Spaghetti: A Silly Song Book (pop-up book), Piggy Toes Press (Santa Monica, CA), 2004.

Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2006.

Dear Deer: A Book of Homophones, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2007.


Eva Nagorski, Booktivity: Face Painting, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Eva Nagorski, Booktivity: Detective Kit, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Elaine Lonergan, Bugs, Golden Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Elaine Lonergan, Dinosaurs, Golden Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Dandi Daley Mackall, Off to Plymouth Rock!, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2003.

Dandi Daley Mackall, Journey, Easter Journey!, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2004.

Dandi Daley Mackall, Merry Creature Christmas!, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2004.

Joy Behar, SheetzuCacaPoopoo: My Kind of Dog, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2006.

Also illustrator of The Doodletop Book, Tormont Books; The Eye of the Ruby, Piggy Toes Press; and several titles in the "Between the Lions" series for WGBH television. Contributor of illustrations to periodicals, including Cobblestone, Appleseeds, Faces, and Odyssey.


Gene Barretta wears three creative hats: those of author, illustrator, and animator. Working as an illustrator since the late 1990s, he has contributed artwork to children's books by authors such as Joy Behar, Dandi Daley Mackall, and Elaine Lonergan. In 2006 Barretta both wrote and illustrated his own book, Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin. Prior to illustrating and writing books for children Barretta spent several years creating animation for children's films and television programs such as Sesame Street.

Cited by School Library Journal reviewer Barbara Auerbach as "a clever, concise introduction" to its subject, Barretta's self-illustrated Now & Ben profiles one of America's most inventive colonials. Within his charming and humorous pictures, Barretta introduces several of Benjamin Franklin's many concoctions and reveals how they have affected the lives of generations of Americans. Using a now-and-then concept, he exhibits each of Franklin's inventions as it is recognized in modern times on one page, then depicts the inventor in the process of generating the same invention on the facing page.

Betty Carter, reviewing Now & Ben for Horn Book, noted that Barretta's technique of comparing and contrasting the present with the past "leads readers from what they do know to what they probably don't." In Booklist, Jennifer Mattson explained that the book introduces young readers to an eclectic mix of Franklin's inventions, mixing such well-known discoveries as lightning rods and bifocals with less-well-known creations, such as a butter churn powered by a rocking chair. Mattson also recognized Barretta's "relaxed, cartoon-like watercolors" and deemed Now & Ben a "punchy read-aloud" guaranteed to "lighten up American history units."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, March 1, 2006, Jennifer Mattson, review of Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin, p. 98.

Horn Book, May-June, 2006, Betty Carter, review of Now & Ben, p. 339.

School Library Journal, March, 2006, Barbara Auerbach, review of Now & Ben, p. 206.


Gene Barretta Home Page, (December 29, 2006).

About this article

Barretta, Gene

Updated About content Print Article