Saltzberg, Barney 1955-
Saltzberg, Barney 1955-
Born April 30, 1955, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Irving and Ruth Saltzberg; married 1985; wife's name Susan; children: two children. Education: Sonoma State College, degree, 1977.
Artist, illustrator, author, and singer-songwriter. Performer at concerts for children; songwriter and producer of recordings adapted from Public Broadcasting System (PBS) children's television series Arthur. Founder, Crazy Hair Day Literacy Campaign (reading initiative).
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Oppenheim Toy Portfolio award, 1998, for The Flying Garbanzos; California Young Reader Medal finalist, 1999, for Mrs. Morgan's Lawns; Parents' Choice Award, 2000, and California Young Reader Medal nomination, 2003, both for The Soccer Mom from Outer Space.
Utter Nonsense, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1980.
It Must Have Been the Wind, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1982.
What to Say to Clara, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1984.
The Yawn, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1985.
Cromwell, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1986.
Hi Bird, Bye Bird, Barron's (New York, NY), 1990.
What Would You Do with a Bone?, Barron's (New York, NY), 1990.
Mrs. Morgan's Lawn, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1993.
This Is a Great Place for a Hot Dog Stand, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1994.
Where, Oh, Where's My Underwear?, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1994.
Show and Tell, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1994.
Phoebe and the Spelling Bee, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1996.
Backyard Cowboy, paper engineering by Renée Jablow, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1996.
(With Laura Numeroff) Two for Stew, illustrated by Salvatore Murdocca, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.
The Flying Garbanzos, Crown (New York, NY), 1998.
Animal Kisses, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2000.
The Soccer Mom from Outer Space, Crown (New York, NY), 2000.
Baby Animal Kisses, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2000.
The Problem with Pumpkins: A Hip and Hop Story, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2001.
Hip, Hip, Hooray Day!: A Hip and Hop Story, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2002.
Peekaboo Kisses, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2002.
Crazy Hair Day, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.
Noisy Kisses: A Touch and Feel Book, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2004.
I Love Cats, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.
I Love Dogs, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.
Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed?, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.
Star of the Week, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.
Goodnight Kisses, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2006.
Hi, Bunny. Bye, Bunny, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2007.
Hi, Blueberry!, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2007.
Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for School?, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2007.
Stanley and the Class Pet, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2008.
Peekaboo, Blueberry!, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2008.
Lisa Rojany, Jake and Jenny on the Farm (interactive book), Price Stern Sloan (Los Angeles, CA), 1990.
Wendy Boyd-Smith, There's No Barking at the Table Cookbook, Lip Smackers, Inc., 1991.
Lisa Rojany, Jake and Jenny on the Town (interactive book), Price Stern Sloan (Los Angeles, CA), 1993.
Lisa A. Marsoli and Stacie Strong, Bow, Wow, and You on the Farm, Child's Play of England, 1996.
Judy Sierra, There's a Zoo in Room 22, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2000.
Amy Ehrlich, Kazam's Magic, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.
Amy Ehrlich, Bravo, Kazam!, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002.
Stuart J. Murphy, Slugger's Carwash, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.
How Many Elephants? (lift-the-flap book), Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
Many of Saltzberg's books have been adapted as audiobooks, including Crazy Hair Day, produced by Inkless Music as a benefit for Concern Foundation for Cancer Research, 2007.
Barney Saltzberg is an author and illustrator of children's books whose books include The Flying Garbanzos, The Soccer Mom from Outer Space, Crazy Hair Day, and several books featuring an unlikely porcine hero named Cornelius P. Mud. In addition to writing, Saltzberg also composes songs, often performing concerts for children in schools, libraries, and hospitals across the United States. Discussing the beginning of his writing career on his home page, the versatile author/artist explained that although he dreamt of being a musician early on in his life, a career in children's books did not become a possibility until he took a print-making class while studying art at Sonoma State College in California. The assignment he completed for this class resulted in one of his first children's books, It Must Have Been the Wind.
Like It Must Have Been the Wind, many of Saltzberg's books for children feature original stories and art. In What to Say to Clara, for example, he pairs his text with black-and-white cartoons that bring to life the simple story of a shy boy named Otis and his attempts to gather enough courage to speak to a classmate. "Droll" and "firmly etched" drawings accompany the text of this "larky" story, noted a reviewer in Publishers Weekly. He features another simple narrative in The Yawn, a wordless book in which a young boy begins his day with a huge yawn, passing it on to a dog, who passes it on again, fueling a chain reaction that even affects the Man in the Moon. In a review for School Library Journal, Deb Andrews praised the simple illustrations in The Yawn, adding that Saltzberg's work will "spark discussion among young children."
A classic picture-book villain, the crabby and unpleasant neighbor, is the star of Mrs. Morgan's Lawn. In Saltzberg's story, a boy dreads asking Mrs. Morgan to return his ball after it lands in her yard and imagines various other alternative methods to retrieve the toy. "The boy's forthright narration rings true," reflected by the author's humorous and "naïve … illustrations," observed Elizabeth Bush in her Booklist review of Mrs. Morgan's Lawn. Saltzberg also focuses on everyday activities and realistic actions in books such as Where, Oh Where Is My Underwear?, Show and Tell, and Backyard Cowboy.
The author/illustrator shares a more involved story in This Is a Great Place for a Hot Dog Stand, a tale highlighting "individual enterprise and ingenuity" according to Jane Marino in School Library Journal. The book tells of hopes and dreams, as Izzy, a factory worker, quits his job to begin a business selling hot dogs. In Phoebe and the Spelling Bee, Saltzberg returns to a familiar theme: dealing with fear and unpleasant tasks. Writing in Booklist, Stephanie Zvirin remarked that although the spelling list Phoebe is confronted with would be a bit complicated for the book's intended audience, readers "will readily recognize themselves in Phoebe's … attempts to avoid … something new and scary." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly praised Saltzberg for providing children with a new tactic to learning words.
A family of circus acrobats take center-stage in The Flying Garbanzos, in which the five-member Garbanzo family—including a two-year-old baby named Beanie—fly and perform acrobatic tricks even when they are not on stage. Saltzberg's whimsical picture book is "sure to be a hit," according to School Library Journal critic Virginia Golodetz, while in Publishers Weekly a reviewer remarked that "fast action and shouted dialogue ensure that the pages turn in a hurry."
Outrageous behavior of another sort is the focus of The Soccer Mom from Outer Space, an exaggerated look at an overly enthusiastic mother. Lena's mom's excitement in the days leading up to her daughter's first soccer game prompts Dad to recount the story of his own mother and her antics during his own childhood sports career. Reviewing the picture book for School Library Journal, Blair Christolon noted that while children will certainly relate to the story, The Soccer Mom from Outer Space is also a "particularly good choice for coaches to use for a meeting with new soccer parents."
A less-involved set of parents provides the humor in Saltzberg's picture books featuring a rambunctious young pig. In Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed? the young pig is queried regarding his daily nighttime ritual: putting away toys, using the bathroom, etcetera. Although the book's text shows the piglet answering in the affirmative, Saltzberg's illustrations tell a quite different story. In Horn Book Kitty Flynn noted that the "simple text" in the book features a "twist on a familiar storyline and the bold dynamic pictures are … attention grabbers." A similar story plays out in Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for School? as Cornelius answers his mother's questions while getting ready to leave for school. "The cheerful colors and Cornelius's lively antics make his world the happy-go-lucky kind of place that children enjoy visiting," according to Booklist critic Randall Enos.
Inspired by a young cancer patient's worries about returning to school following chemotherapy, Crazy Hair Day introduces a young hamster named Stanley Birdbaum as he prepares for school. This is no ordinary day, however; as Stanley tells his mom, it is Crazy Hair Day, and the two have fun fluffing, spiking, and coloring the hamster's fur. When Stanley arrives at school, however, he is mortified to learn that it is actually school picture day. After hiding in the bathroom for a while, the hamster emerges and finds that all his classmates have followed his lead, making the day Crazy Hair Picture Day. "Saltzberg conveys the pleasing goofiness of special days at school," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor in a review of Crazy Hair Day, while in Booklist Jennifer Mattson concluded that "the authenticity of Stanley's situation is likely to put readers in the mood to share their most embarrassing moments." In School Library Journal, Jody McCoy dubbed Crazy Hair Day a "delightful tale of confusion and compassion."
Stanley returns in Star of the Week, as the young hamster is selected to share his favorite things with the class. When Stanley's favorite foods and favorite toy do not elicit enthusiasm, he feels a tad rejected, but on the third day his chalkboard art wins raves. In his ink-and-acrylic art, Saltzberg "creates Stanley's world with warmth and keen attention to detail," according to Booklist critic Carolyn Phelan, and in School Library Journal Kathy Piehl concluded that Star of the Week "perfectly captures the stage fright that almost everyone has experienced."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Ward, Martha E., and others, Authors of Books for Young People, Scarecrow Press (Metuchen, NJ), 1990.
Booklist, December 1, 1993, Elizabeth Bush, review of Mrs. Morgan's Lawn, p. 701; October 1, 1997, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Phoebe and the Spelling Bee, p. 339; September 15, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of The Problem with Pumpkins: A Hip and Hop Story, p. 236; November 1, 2003, Jennifer Mattson, review of Crazy Hair Day, p. 506; May 1, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed?, p. 1593; February 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Star of the Week, p. 57; June 1, 2007, Randall Enos, review of Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for School?, p. 80.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 2003, Karen Coats, review of Crazy Hair Day, p. 164; September, 2005, Timnah Card, review of Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed?, p. 41.
Horn Book, May-June, 2005, Kitty Flynn, review of Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed?, p. 314.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2002, review of Hip, Hip, Hooray Day!, p. 264; July 15, 2003, review of Crazy Hair Day, p. 967; April 1, 2005, review of Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed?, p. 424; January 15, 2006, review of Star of the Week, p. 89; June 15, 2007, review of Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for School?; May 15, 2008, review of Stanley and the Class Pet.
Publishers Weekly, December 21, 1984, review of What to Say to Clara, p. 88; November 8, 1993, review of Mrs. Morgan's Lawn, p. 75; October 13, 1997, review of Phoebe and the Spelling Bee, p. 74; September 7, 1998, review of The Flying Garbanzos, p. 93; September 24, 2001, review of The Problem with Pumpkins, p. 43; July 1, 2002, review of Peekaboo Kisses, p. 81; August 18, 2003, review of Crazy Hair Day, p. 78.
School Library Journal, August, 1982, review of It Must Have Been the Wind, p. 105; December, 1984, review of What to Say to Clara, p. 76; December, 1985, Deb Andrews, review of The Yawn, p. 82; April, 1986, Ronald Van de Voorde, review of Cromwell, p. 79; May, 1995, Jane Marino, review of This Is a Great Place for a Hot Dog Stand, p. 94; September, 1998, Virginia Golodetz, review of The Flying Garbanzos, p. 181; August, 2000, Blair Christolon, review of The Soccer Mom from Outer Space, p. 164; April, 2002, Roxanne Burg, review of Hip, Hip, Horray Day!, p. 122; December, 2003, Jody McCoy, review of Crazy Hair Day, p. 125; March, 2005, Kelley Rae Unger, review of Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed?, p. 186; August, 2004, Andrea Tarr, reviews of I Love Cats and I Love Dogs, p. 105; February, 2006, Kathy Piehl, review of Star of the Week, p. 109.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), September 7, 2003, review of Crazy Hair Day, p. 51; February 26, 2006, Mary Harris Russell, review of Star of the Week, p. 7.
Barney Saltzberg Home Page,http://www.barneysaltzberg.com (October 26, 2008).