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Barney Saltzberg

Author of Beautiful Oops!, Illustrator, and Musician

BEAUTIFUL OOPS! is a one-of-a-kind bestseller that started a movement: It’s OK to make a mistake! Along with his recent follow-up, MY BOOK OF BEAUTIFUL OOPS! (a fill-in artist’s journal), Barney Saltzberg’s books show young readers how every mistake is an opportunity to make something beautiful. A spill doesn’t ruin a drawing—not when it can be seen as the shape of a monster. An accidental tear in your paper can become the roaring mouth of an alligator. Saltzberg shows us how a mistake can be magically transformed.

"The concept that an 'oops' is OK takes the sting out of making a mistake," Saltzberg says. "If we stifle creativity too often, we risk discouraging kids from being creative altogether." Saltzberg travels the country talking to schoolchildren and teachers, and recently did a standing-room-only event at the National Art Educators' Association convention. His newest book, A LITTLE BIT OF OOMPH, is a follow-up on creativity which shows that, if you try just a little bit harder, you can make the ordinary extraordinary. He is also the author of ARLO NEEDS GLASSES, which follows a shaggy dog as he reads an eye chart, looks through a phoropter, and assures schoolchildren who wear glasses—one out of every five—that they are cool and fun.

The author of more than 30 books for children, including Good Egg and the popular Touch and Feel Kisses series, Saltzberg is the recipient of a 2010 NAPPA Gold Award, a 2010 PAL (Play Advances Language) Award for promoting language development, a Parents' Choice Gold Award and a 2011 Teacher's Choice Award for the Family. He was the first American picture book author to be sent by the U.S. State Department to China as part of its cultural exchange program.

Born in Los Angeles, Barney Saltzberg has always loved to draw. His mother, a painter, wouldn’t let him use coloring books, so as a child he learned to create his own characters and drew all over his lunch bag every morning before school. He studied art at Sonoma State College and children's book writing and illustration at Otis/Parsons. BEAUTIFUL OOPS! was born when he spilled coffee on a sketchbook and on an impulse made the stains into coffee-blob monsters.

Saltzberg has been a keynote speaker at the California and Rocky Mountain Reading Associations and the Southern California School Library Association, many children’s museums and schools, and has spoken at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. He is also a musician and composer, having recorded four CDs of songs for children; and he often plays the guitar and sings during his school presentations. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two dogs, and a pond full of fish.

Speaking Topics

  • BEAUTIFUL OOPS: How to Turn a Mistake into Something Beautiful
  • Introducing Creativity into the Classroom


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