To celebrate Lane Smith’s forthcoming picture book, Stickler Loves the World, I spoke with Lane via email to talk about Stickler, writing, and finding joy in all the things. Lane was delightful and insightful. Here’s our conversation. I can’t wait to share it with you.
Interview with Lane Smith
Melissa: I feel like this story is exactly what the world needs right now. What was your inspiration for creating this story at this moment in time?
Lane: Thanks! If you read the newspapers or watch cable news, you might think things are terrible all over. However, we are on this astonishing planet with so much to see in the natural world. Stickler is like a kid (if kids were made of sticks). It experiences the world with wide-eyed wonder. Pure amazement and joy, all the time.
Melissa: What do you hope for readers after they experience this story?
Lane: There’s no overt message. But maybe if Stickler reminds kids to simply notice stuff, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing to impart. Slow down, look at that bug. Feel the bumps on that rock. Smell those flowers. Watch out for that cactus.
Melissa: Is there something you do to help you find joy and delight in all the weird and wonderful things in our world?
Lane: I have been blessed with a very poky dog (JoJo) and a very leisurely cat (Lulu) who I walk every day. They move soooooo slow that I have A LOT of time to ponder things. Thanks guys!
Melissa: How can readers see the world more like Stickler?
Lane: You need eight eyes.
Melissa: With growing kid writers, what is the top piece of advice you would give them?
Write all the time. If you are an artist, draw all the time. When I was in art school, one of my teachers called it “Brush Mileage.” It’s true. The more you paint, draw, or write, the more “mileage” you stockpile and the better you become. Nothing is off-limits. If you want to write about sparkly fairies, that’s cool! If you want to draw superheroes, that’s awesome! If you want to make a book about your weird uncle, I encourage you! But you might want to change his name first.
Melissa: With adult writers, what is your one piece of advice for story idea generation?
Lane: To be a better writer, it helps to be a dedicated reader. Read everything you can. The good and the bad.
As for story ideas, don’t try to copy what is popular or a bestseller or what others have done. Do your own thing. I’m sure that’s not a problem. I would lay odds if you are someone who is attracted to children’s books in the first place, you no doubt already have a pretty active imagination.
About Author Lane Smith
Lane Smith is the author-illustrator of numerous award-winning and bestselling books for children. He is the recipient of the Kate Greenaway Medal, two Caldecott Honors, five New York Times Best Illustrated Book selections, and lifetime achievements from the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and the Society of illustrators. He is the illustrator of Penguin Problems, Giraffe Problems, and Cat Problems, all written by Jory John. Lane Smith lives in Connecticut with his wife, Molly Leach, an award-winning graphic designer.
About STICKLER LOVES THE WORLD
Penguin Random House Description: Stickler, an original character covered in sticks and with multiple ever-changing eyes, loves its little world. With best friend Crow, it shares the wonders of all the amazing things the world has to offer. Stickler is astonished by the ordinary, such as the sun and the stars, as well as fascinated by those things in nature that are often overlooked, such as swirling seed pods falling from the sky. The two pals wander about the world, stopping to appreciate the many marvels along the way, especially its beloved sticks, each one unique.
Stickler Loves the World encourages awareness and mindfulness with a joyous and lighthearted touch. The award-winning illustrator of bestsellers, including Penguin Problems and Giraffe Problems brings imagination and humor to a story that features a delightful and original character.
Melissa’s Review: As you can tell from my interview, I love Stickler and the way in which he finds exuberance about everything in nature!
“Behold! The joy of ROCKS!” Stickler, a multi-eye stick creature, meets Crow, who temporarily can’t see due to a tin can stuck on their head. Stickler, thinking that Crow is an alien, narrates to him about all about the wonders of the world. Puffballs! Wind! Fish! (“Smelly, wonderful!”) Blue! Maple syrup! Stickler says, ““And just think of the wonders we must pass every day without even noticing.”” RIGHT!?
After Crow is revealed to be Crow, Stickler remembers the best wonder of all–STICKS! And also chirpy crickets, misty fog, shiny moon.
Stickler invites us all to see the big and small wonders of the world with more excitement and joy than we’ve ever done before. Stickler Loves the World is pure delight from start to finish!
Thanks, Lane, for speaking with me and all your books throughout the years!