Lane Smith was born on August 25, 1959, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His family moved to Corona, California when he was little, but they spent part of every summer back in Oklahoma. "My family would take the old Route 66 highway. I think that's where my bizarre sense of design comes from. Once you've seen a 100-foot cement buffalo on top of a donut-stand in the middle of nowhere, you're never the same."

To help pay his way through art school, Lane worked at Disneyland as a janitor. "Only we weren't called janitors, we were called custodial hosts. One of my duties was to clean out the attractions at night. It was great to be left in the Haunted Mansion all alone. Another duty was to clean up after someone if they got sick on the Revolving Teacup ride. Like I said, it was great to be left in the Haunted Mansion all alone."

After he earned a degree in illustration, he headed for New York with a small portfolio. He says that in the beginning, when he showed his artwork, people would say "Boy, that's different!" and show him the door.

Lane got married, and his wife worked with a woman who turned out to be the wife of children's author Jon Scieszka. When the husbands met, around 1986, they recognized each other's core wackiness and decided to team up. Their first book, the wiseguy fairy tale retelling The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! was initially rejected by most publishers as being "too weird" and "too sophisticated," Viking published it in 1989, and the book has now sold over a million copies, been translated into ten languages, and been called a "classic picture book for all ages," which is what you say after a book sells over a million copies.

Lane and Scieszka have co-created many more books since, including The Stinky Cheese Man, which not only won a Caldecott Honor Award but has remained steadily popular since it was published in 1992. That just doesn't happen with picture books - especially modern ones (as opposed to Seuss and Sendak), especially the really, really good ones.

Lane's artwork is an odd combination of oils and acrylics, and he often uses bits of newsprint and other media to collage it into something fascinating. His illustrations have appeared on the covers of The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe, Sierra, American Bookseller, The Progressive, Time, Newsweek, Mother Jones, and Ms.

When kids love his pictures enough to send him pictures of their own, Lane hangs them on his wall.

His favorite memory is winning the Oscar for "Mary Poppins." His most treasured possession is gum.

Books illustrated:


The Big Pets

Flying Jake

Glasses: Who Needs 'Em?

The Good, the Bad, and the Goofy

Halloween ABC

The Happy Hocky Family   (written as well as illustrated by Lane)

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!

It's All Greek to Me

James and the Giant Peach

Knights of the Kitchen Table

Math Curse

The Not-So-Jolly Roger

Squids Will Be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales

Summer Reading Is Killing Me!

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!

The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip

Your Mother Was a Neanderthal

thanks to:

Lane Smith is also the name of a talented Hollywood actor who has starred in such gems as The Mighty Ducks, My Cousin Vinny, and Lois and Clark. Somebody else can take that one.

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