Derrick Barnes

Derrick Barnes is a native of Kansas City, Missouri. He is a graduate of Jackson State University (B.A. Marketing, 1999). He is the author of the children’s books Stop Drop and Chill and The Low Down Bad Day Blues published by Scholastic, as well as the popular “Ruby and the Booker Boys” series, also published by Scholastic. His first middle grade novel, We Could Be Brothers, was published by Scholastic in 2010. Derrick has presented at elementary, middle, and high schools all over the country, and has been invited twice by Barbara Bush to her annual Celebration of Reading conference in Florida. He is also known for writing best selling copy for various Hallmark Card lines and was the first African American male staff writer for Hallmark. Derrick resides in Kansas City with his enchanting wife, Dr. Tinka Barnes and their sons, Ezra, Solomon, Silas, and Nnamdi.

Selected Reviews of Derrick Barnes’ Books

Ruby and the Booker Boys: Brand New School, Brave New Ruby
Derrick Barnes
   Ruby Booker’s old school has closed, so she is about to start third grade at Hope Road Academy. Ruby is a sassy little character who likes to belt out songs and wear bright clothing, but she is afraid she will always be in the shadows at her new school. Her three older brothers attend Hope Road Academy, and they all stand out as winners. Tyner gets great grades and Ruby thinks he is almost a genius. Marcellus is a good-looking athlete and musician and all the girls are crazy about him. Ro is funny and likes to play tricks. Ruby knows most of the kids think the Booker boys rule the school. So, how will she fit in? Will she always be known only as their little sister? She is invited to give the morning announcement over the PA system and finds herself with the microphone. Then, with the encouragement of her best friend, Theresa Petticoat, and her own outgoing personality, Ruby shows everyone she is much more than the sister of the Booker boys. This is the first book in the “Ruby and the Booker Boys” series. 2008, Little Apple/Scholastic, $4.99. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Carolyn Mott Ford (Children’s Literature).

Ruby and the Booker Boys: Ruby Flips for Attention
Derrick Barnes
   Ruby cannot wait to for the show to begin. The Wallace Park Spirit Drill Team, led by Ruby’s older cousin, Keeva, is about to start. Excitement whips through the gym as the girls begin to dance. Ruby is fixated on becoming just like Keeva and puts a plan into motion to start a drill team at her very own elementary school. Later Ruby calls a meeting to order regarding the Chill Brook Steppers. She has set out to recruit the best of the best. The only problem is there are only two girls buying into the plan: Ruby and her best friend, Teresa. Marcellus, Ruby’s big brother, takes it upon himself to coach the new team. Unfortunately, his coaching skills are not up to par. Ruby fractures her wrist while learning to flip. She will spend the next several weeks in a cast. Ruby wants to spend time with Keeva and her drill team. She arrives one afternoon to find that no one is dressed to flip or perform. There is no music. Ruby is confused. Keeva explains that occasionally they are cheerleaders for those who are in need of a boost. They help out those who are less fortunate and feed the homeless when they are not practicing. This is the type of team Ruby can be a part of, with or without a cast. She calls the girls together again and this time they put their plan into action. The Chill Brook Steppers have arrived, ready to help those in need. Ruby couldn’t be happier with her new role. This charming story is a great way to show children that they can make a difference in the community, no matter how young. This is the fourth book in the “Ruby and the Booker Boys” series. 2009, Scholastic Inc, $4.99. Ages 7 to 11. Reviewer: Summer Whiting (Children’s Literature).

We Could Be Brothers
Derrick Barnes
   Post-School Suspension, or PSS, is not the place students want to end up at the end of the school day. Instead of being punished with time out of school, students who break the rules at Alain Locke Middle School are punished with more time in school. Robeson Battlefield is not your typical PSS student. Armed with intellect and the desire to go to college, Robeson relies on his accomplished parents to be role models for him growing up in Kansas City, Missouri. On day one of his PSS sentence, Robeson gets to know Pacino, a PSS regular. Compelled by an odd sense of compassion and curiosity, Robeson befriends Pacino and finds that there is a lot he can learn from him. By the end of their PSS sentence, Pacino realizes that Robeson is lost in the tough drama that goes on at Alain Locke, and has inadvertently gotten himself mixed up with the wrong people. Convinced that Robeson has turned him in for cheating, Tariq Molten holds a grudge against Robeson and isn’t doing much to hide his rage. Pacino’s background growing up in Meyer Heights, where gunplay is common and so are the incessant sound of sirens, has taught him that kids like Tariq are all talk. However, Tariq’s threats are real and Pacino knows that Robeson doesn’t have a chance at a real defense against one of the biggest thugs at school. Divided in sections that span the boys’ weeklong PSS sentence and then some, Barnes has crafted a story that is real and relatable. In the less-known areas of Kansas City, kids like Pacino have to fight every day to maintain a reputation that protects themselves and their families. On the other side of that, kids like Robeson focus their energy on schoolwork and grades, trying to ignore the realities that surround them. 2010, Scholastic Press, $17.99. Ages 12 to 14. Reviewer: Patrice Russo Belotte (Children’s Literature).

Program Details

Presentations: 35-45 minutes; $600/day plus travel expenses for outside the Kansas City, MO area; 2-4 presentations per day.
Conferences: $1,500 plus travel expenses

Ruby and the Booker Boys:

  • Brief, funny, and engaging introduction about the author’s background. Plus, a discussion about his writing process and how important editing is
  • Powerpoint presentation (projector and/or smartboard/whiteboard needed)
  • Reading from chapter chosen by students
  • Q&A
  • Prize giveaway (posters, bookmarks, etc)
  • Book signing

We Could Be Brothers:

  • Brief introduction; path to becoming an author
  • Powerpoint presentation: “Catalysts and Themes Behind We Could Be Brothers”
  • Chapter reading
  • Open and candid conversation about the themes in the novel: self-respect, brotherhood, respect of women, sad state of hip-hop music, ceasing the use of the dreaded “N-word,” and other positive alternatives/mind sets
  • Poster giveaway
  • Book signing

Additional Information

To learn more about Derrick Barnes and his publications please visit