And, as Barnett shares in an interview this month with Betsy Bird at School Library Journal, "I wanted to write about a very particular kind of regret that only children can feel: a regret that is sincere but also usually less acute than the situation warrants. I'm thinking particularly of an episode at 826LA, a nonprofit writing center I used to run. I walked into the bathroom to find a kid who'd flushed many paper towels down a toilet and wrecked a 100-year-old plumbing system. He was standing in an inch of (thankfully clean) water, and he smiled sheepishly, apologized, and went back to the writing lab to finish his homework. It was a small step from that bathroom to ruined major metropolitan area, from the scatological the eschatological." I love this back story and the feeling that Barnett evokes in OH NO!, a deceptively simple story. (Read the whole interview for another really great story about what first inspired Mac to think about writing kid's books and how he got his foot in the door and which famous children's book author's kid he went to college with...)
But, really, I shouldn't write too much about this book. Barnett's inspiration and text are amazing, it is clear from reading his other books (and interviews with Adam Rex) he approaches creating picture book as a collaborative effort and, fortunately for us, he collaborates with some amazing artists who are also authors themselves. So, let me rave for a minute about the work of Dan Santat and what a spectacular book OH NO! is, from cover to cover, inside and out.