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Authors & Illustrators

The Bookshelf: Inside the Oakland Studio of Author Mac Barnett

Written by Erin Feher

Photography by Emily Scott

Mac Barnett is a little sad that he doesn’t have paint on his pants. The prolific kids’ book author thinks the studios of the illustrators he collaborates with (such as Christian Robinson and Jon Klassen) have a little more to look at. Their desks are covered with markers, scissors, and paintbrushes, while, as a writer, Mac just gets to use a fancy pencil sometimes. But the countless fans—us very much included—of his nearly 40 books would surely disagree that this makes him any less of a fascinating subject. After all, Mac is the storyteller, the one who dreamt up the whimsical friendship (and rivalry) between three shapes, the one who wrote a bunch of screwy love poems about a pig, and the one who created a cacophonous apartment building populated by laughing cowboys and gossiping sheep. Plus, his studio is inside a gem of a Craftsman in Oakland, so forget markers and paint—Mac’s got great wallpaper and original built-ins. The author’s latest book (released yesterday!) is Just Because—a sweet story made up of a series of questions a girl asks her father at bedtime, and the inventive answers he provides. Click through the whole home and studio tour below, and prepare to be unbelievably inspired by a brilliant writer and his fancy pencils.

For more children’s books inspiration, check out our previous “The Bookshelf” profiles with authors and illustrators Hervé Tullet, Carson EllisChristian RobinsonJon KlassenYuyi Morales, and Isabel Sanchez Vegara.

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  1. Those tiny triangle, circle & square figures are adorable. I love those books as much as my kids. We can’t wait to find out what shape was hiding behind the waterfall.

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