These desperate days of quarantine and "homeschooling," the world needs heroes. In today's world, superheroes wear scrubs and masks, paramedic uniforms, and grocery clerk aprons. They give rousing morning addresses on Periscope. But there is another a hero, an individual who wears a rotating array of hats and runs a triumphant "TV show" out of his library — Mac Barnett.
Author of the Mac B. Kid Spy middle-grade series, early reader series Jack, the Shapes trilogy with Jon Klassen, and some 30+ other books, Barnett is the Yogi Berra of kid lit — charming, quotable, looks mighty good in a baseball hat. As educators scramble to set up distance learning, authors, artists, museums, and historical sites have taken to the internet to teach our children, and Barnett has proudly run with the baton, rallying readers everywhere to join Mac's Book Club, a once-in-a-lifetime event that occurs daily (*tips hat*).
'What is a live cartoon?' you might ask. It's kind of hard to explain. Pictures are drawn ahead of time and the camera pans around while Barnett and Harris provide voices. Check it:
Barnett has continued to do live picture book readings at noon Pacific time, joined by collaborators like Jon Klassen, Carson Ellis, and Christian Robinson. Guys, this is the A-team of hilarious and delightful kid lit. So tune in.
But Barnett did not stop there. In fact, he took an amazing idea and added a touch of class, starting 'Mac's Book Club Show: Chapter Books After Dark.' It's a black-tie optional event, airing 5:00 p.m. Pacific time. Every evening, he's bringing a whole chapter from his book (which he refers to as his "best-selling memoir" — pronounced mem-waah) Mac B Kid Spy: Mac Undercover. Kids will delight in this reading. Trust me. But the absolute best part is that his presentation will make even the crankiest of parents crack a smile. His dog is his cohost. He's got on a bow-tie. He makes digs at his illustrator Mike Lowery. Please enjoy.
If you missed the first few installments have no fear! Mac has all of them up on his Instagram page, so you can begin the story over and get caught up. He's not going to run out of material anytime soon, either. There are already three books in the Mac B. Kid Spy series.
There's even book club merch, and I can't remember the last time I've clicked a link so fast. Your kid (or you) can don an original Shawn Harris-designed baseball cap and support indie bookshops at the same time.
Tune in, tune out, and don't forget the millinery!
Thank you Mac, for being the hero we need,