All Hail Barbara O'Connor

When I first started chasing the dream of becoming a published author of children's books, I did it quietly -- with books, and reading, and research, as is the usual m.o. for an introverted person like me. And there was one middle grade author I returned to again and again -- both through her work and through her blog/online presence: Barbara O'Connor.

To me, Barbara O'Connor writes the epitome of middle grade literature. Her books hit the sweet spot of flavor and spunk and heart -- and writing done right. Plus: dogs! Lots of dogs. :) How these books have not garnered every critical starred review and award known to man, I do not know (yes, they are sometimes recognized, but not nearly enough!) .... though they have been widely recognized and cherished by readers. Kids LOVE Barbara's books. And I do, too!

As I watched Barbara, from my little writing desk in Alabama, I learned. I particularly remember the inspiration and encouragement I got from reading her year-end blog posts found at Greetings from Nowhere (name after a book that if you haven't read yet, please go fix that RIGHT NOW). Here's her year-end musings for 2007 -- which was probably the first year I read Barb's blog, because it's the year she started her blog... and the year I landed an agent and sold my first book. (!)

Go ahead, read it. I'll wait right here...

Isn't that brilliant? So funny and honest -- just like Barb's books. And it inspired me. It helped me know what was possible. It encouraged me to keep going. THANK YOU, BARB!

Now I am off to read WONDERLAND, which is waiting so patiently on my nightstand...

Irene Latham is an Alabama author of more than a dozen current and forthcoming poetry, fiction and picture books for children and adults, including Leaving Gee's Bend, 2011 ALLA Children's Book of the Year and Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship (with Charles Waters). Winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, she also serves as poetry editor for the Birmingham Arts Journal


  1. I will definitely have to add Barbara's books to my ever growing pile of must reads. Thanks Irene!

  2. I love Barbara O'Connor's books and have been her friend on Facebook for a bit but didn't know about her blog. I can't wait to meet her at NCTE.

  3. Irene, Thanks for the fantastic post. I will have to read Barbara's books. I am sure they will inspire me, too.


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