In an age when facts can be “alternative” and the political divide in the Lone Star State widens into an epic chasm, at least one thing is almost everyone Texans can agree: Willie Nelson is a state treasure. Hell, the most famous son of Abbott national asecond abbreviation Global Ambassador for Culture and Music.
And at 88, he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, staying true to his ethos of being “on the road again” with touring dates as he just launched. Willie Nelson family. According to Wikipedia, it’s his 72nd studio album since 1962 and features his sister Bobbie and children Paula, Amy, Lukas, and Micah.
In addition to writing thousands of songs, there’s another side to Literary Willie: he’s been the subject and author of many books, including biographies, biographies, and popes.
But it has never been the subject of a children’s book until now with its recent publication by Chris Barton Sister, Brother and Family: Willie Nelson and Bobby Nelson – American Childhood in Music (32 pages, $18.99, Doubleday Books). The book was co-authored with the Nelson family, and it was illustrated by Kyung Eun Han.
As the title indicates, it’s also the story of the family and musical collaboration between Willie and his “sister Bobby,” who at the age of 90 still sits on the piano bench onstage directly with her younger brother, working almost full-time on live and studio since 1973.
This book is not Barton’s first book on Willie Nelson. It was 1989 when he was 17 years old at Salvor Springs High School and the managing editor of the school newspaper Cat’s Tale. One advantage of the position was to appoint himself to interview musicians who play at the nearby Hopkins County Civic Regional Center. Thus, the teenager found himself in Willie Nelson & Family’s eyeball with 55-year-old Nelson right before the show. Not bad.
“It was a small town, so it wasn’t difficult to get to. [artists]. There wasn’t a lot of competing media, so it was me and a reporter from the local paper,” Barton recalls.
He was first exposed to the music of Willie Nelson via his father, who passed away when Barton was just eight years old. “He didn’t have a big record set, but he had Stages and stages of a red-headed stranger and the Waylon and Willie albums,” Barton says. “He played this music a lot, and my attraction to music was a way to stay in touch with my father.”
Sister, brother, family It begins with the Depression-era Nelson family in Abbott, Texas, where they were raised by their loving grandparents “Mama” and “Daddy” Nelson.
Both encouraged Willie and Bobby’s interest in music, which children were exposed to through neighbors, church, and their home singing to tunes like “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and “The Great Speckled Bird.”
In the end, they got an old Bobby piano from the general store and Willie a guitar from the Sears catalog. And when Daddy Nelson died when Willie was six and Bobby was eight, it was music that helped them move past the loss.
The siblings started playing in church and school, then the teens joined a band and started playing in ballrooms—which didn’t do well at first with the very religious mother.
But when Willie brought home the $8 he earned in one night – the equivalent of what he made into a game week She works in the fields – until she changes her mind. The book begins and ends with the current Willie and Bobby returning to this period of their lives. Barton says he got the idea to write a children’s book about Willie Nelson in 2009, even starting a first draft.
“He’s someone special and widely loved in this country, but he’s also a great music maker. And there haven’t been many books for children in her time or since about country musicians,” he says. “There are books about jazz musicians and more now about rock musicians, but not really country, despite their commercial success.”
He has submitted proposals for the project over the years, but without success. But then came the adult memoirs last year Sister Bobby and I: True Tales of a Family Band Written by Nelson with David Ritz. The idea was put forward in the overall project plan that there should also be a children’s version. Barton was chosen to adapt it to a picture book audience, focusing on their childhood.
The Round Rock resident author certainly has a diverse career in subject matter. His books – made with different illustrators – ranged from action-packed works of fiction (shark vs train With Tom Lichtenold, fire truck vs dragon with Shanda McCloskey) to introduce young readers to extraordinary real-life inventors. His first appearance in 2009 Day Glow Brothers With Tony Farsi and beyond Whoo! With Don Tate they were about the creators of Day-Glo paint and Super Soaker water guns respectively.
Lately, though, he’s been getting attention and garnering praise and awards for non-fiction books that deal with difficult or deep topics for young readers such as Oklahoma City Bombing (Everything is sudden and forever, With Nicole Shaw) and Civil Rights (Next move forward About activist Alton Yates, with Stevie Walthal).
Of particular interest to Houston, there is his biography of pioneer Fifth Ward citizen, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, whose propaganda tunes inspired the book’s title. What do you do with a voice like that? Illustrated by Ekua Holmes and selected as the 2019 Texas Great Read by the Texas State Library and Archives Committee.
Barton is married to Jennifer Ziegler, a YA book author who has written novels including the popular series featuring The Brewster Triplets. The duo is also hosting a YouTube video author interview series “This is dedicated to…”
Over the past decade, there has been a huge increase in children’s and YA books written about important real people and their life stories. But with a new twist, Barton explains. “The difference now is that the topic is much broader,” he says.
“When I was a kid, I would ask them this Childhood of american celebrity He wrote a lot of novels, dialogue and bleaching. He mainly talks about the founding fathers, a few founding mothers, and a handful of well-known Native Americans and African Americans. The older generation has been feeling the people you should know.”
Now, he says, there are a lot of diverse topics, including those who aren’t necessarily “famous.” refers to his own Day Glow Brothers as an example. “They were not the subjects of Abraham Lincoln, Ben Franklin, or Thomas Edison.”
Barton says he hasn’t heard directly from the Nelson family or anyone in their camp since the book was published earlier this month, although he and Ziegler saw both of them briefly backstage at the 2019 show at the smart financial hub in Sugar Land. Willie Nelson discusses the book that recently appeared on The Today Show.
Barton is also currently focused on promoting another new release with illustrator Sarah Horne. How do I make a book (about my dog).
“It’s a non-fiction picture book about how non-fiction picture books are made,” Barton laughs. “He is very dead. Now, I can say that I have done one book about the very famous redhead in Texas, and another about the lesser known redhead dog!”
For more information about Chris Barton and his books, visit ChrisBarton.info.