Happy Wednesday and welcome to Picture Book Spotlight!
What a WHIRLWIND of a week. Thank you all again for making the launch of The Book of Rules so much fun! And many congrats to our Book of Rules raffle winners: Vanessa Flores, Jessica Shaw, Andrew Hacket, Tina Lusby, and Katie Brandyberry! Enjoy following the rules...I sure hope nobody gets eaten. 😈
Today, I'm pleased to share another unique Spotlight interview. We have the one and only Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld in the house! 🤩🤩Their newest collaboration is the follow-up book to the 2015 hit, Stick and Stone. If you liked the original, you will absolutely ADORE Stick and Stone: Best Friends Forever! Beth and Tom do not disappoint and I was happy to have the opportunity to hear from both the author and the illustrator.
There is a giveaway with this post so check out details at the end for your chance to win! Alright, alright. Let's jump right in.
Fade to black...quiet backstage...cue the spotlight!
Here's Beth and Tom!
This book is awesome! So happy to see Stick and Stone continue their journey and deepen their friendship. What is your absolute favorite line and artistic element and why? What’s your favorite whole spread and why?
Beth: Thanks, Brian! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed Stick and Stone’s new adventure! And congratulations on your debut! My favorite line in the book belongs to Pinecone. He says, “Are you guys okay? Come on, home’s this way.” The simple use of the word ‘home’ by the ‘bad guy’ in the first book is so satisfying to me. It conveys how characters can change and surprise us and how ‘home’ is more than just a place. My favorite spread is when Stick is imagining himself with all different types of leaves. I’m not sure why it surprised me that Tom drew Stick with different leaves, but it did – and it delighted me.
Tom: My favorite line is “quests are the best!” not just because it rhymes but because it captures our heroes’ adventurous spirit. My favorite artistic element is the overall inclusion of the natural environment: trees, rivers, mountains, and various critters. I like the contradiction of absurdity (a stick paddling a canoe), amid natural beauty.
What’s something that surprised you or that you discovered while making Stick and Stone Forever Friends!?
Beth: This book is my first sequel, and it is common knowledge that sequels are never as good as the original, so I was surprised with how happy I was with the story. It felt like this story was just waiting to be told.
Tom: How much fun it was to revisit the characters, developing their personalities and extending their experiences.
I really connected to the emotional journey and epiphany Stick makes. Through a misadventure with Stone, Stick discovers that sometimes the family we find is stronger than the family we’re born into. Beth, how did the theme of forever friends and found family come about? Why is this a timeless and relevant message for kids today?
Beth: I love the idea of found family. I think it is a universal experience for people of all ages. I think kids experience it the most with neighbors and teachers who love them. When I sat down to write Stick and Stone’s next story, it was the only idea that came to me. It had been nine years since I wrote the first story and these characters have become a huge and wonderful part of my life. They truly are part of my family so exploring the idea of friends as family just felt perfect.
Tom, as an artist, what was the most fun about revisiting Stick and Stone and their story world a second time?
Tom: I loved putting these stony, wooden object/characters into human, kid-like situations: reading a book, marking a friend’s height on a doorway, going on adventures, discovering – and getting lost in – the natural world. Working within their limitations challenges my creativity and, I hope, shows kids that we all have more abilities than we think.
Beth, what do you enjoy the most about working with Tom?
Beth: Everything!! And that’s not an exaggeration. Tom is easy to work with and even although he does most of the heavy lifting, the books we make together are a true collaboration. Tom is not only talented, but thoughtful and wise. He and I look at picture books through different lenses, but both want to make the best books we can. Tom takes his job very seriously and is a perfectionist, but his sense of humor shines through every aspect of his art and creative process. I am lucky to call him my friend.
Tom: Okay, I know this isn’t my question, but I just have to say; “Awww….”
Tom, what do you enjoy the most about working with Beth?
Tom: The thing I enjoy most about working with Beth is working with Beth. Seriously, the whole process is joyful, from coming up with ideas to developing broad storylines to obsessing over dumb details no one will probably notice. As a storyteller, I admire the way Beth crafts a story. When I get a piece of writing from her, it’s like a piece of fine woodworking, with seamless joinery and no rough edges or mismatched pieces; everything just works as if it could be no other way.
Since this is a follow-up book, what was different about the process and collaboration?
Beth: Tom and I didn’t actually collaborate on the original Stick and Stone as most authors and illustrators don’t, but we did on this book, and truly, it was so much more rewarding and satisfying! We discussed scenes and sentences and ideas and ultimately, I think the book was better for it. Tom does so many sketches as he creates a book, and it is fascinating to see what he chooses to draw. I didn’t expect to see Stick and Stone in a house, sitting in a chair reading a book, but when I saw it, I knew it was exactly right. The fact that I got to be a part of that was amazing!
Tom: We were under a bit of a deadline so, while I did a lot of exploratory sketches, I didn’t go down as many blind alleys as I did with the first book. If fact, I borrowed a spread that was left over from the first book and used it in this one. I always say that nothing I draw is ever wasted and, for once, it proved true.
Complete the following sentence: “the world needs picture books because…”
Beth: ...they often distill universal truths into simple, accessible, beautiful stories.
Tom: I wish they were called “PictureWord Books” because, wordless books aside, it’s the combining of words and pictures that has the potential for magic. So, I guess I’d say we need picture books because words can fail us and pictures don’t always tell the whole story but, when done right, the combination is more than the sum of its parts.
Thank you so much, Beth and Tom! It was so fun to get to hear from both of you and to improve our craft by learning from your experiences together. #collaborationgoals...
And thank YOU, kidlit fam for swinging by this dusty corner of the internet! Thank you for championing picture books and engaging with our wonderful, creative community. To celebrate Beth and Tom in their newest collaboration, Clarion Books has generously provided a copy of Stick and Stone: Best Friends Forever! for one lucky raffle winner. See details below on how to enter the giveaway!
We're raffling off a copy of Stick and Stone: Best Friends Forever!
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***The deadline for this contest is Tuesday, November 30th at 9AM CST
The winner will be contacted on Tuesday, November 30th and announced on Twitter and Facebook***
About Beth Ferry
Beth Ferry loves to wander, explore and mainly laze on the shore, but only in the summer. She is the author of several picture books, including Stick and Stone. She lives with her husband and three children by the beach in New Jersey. See all of her books at www.bethferry.com
About Tom Lichtenheld
Tom Lichtenheld makes books for children and people who used to be children. His New York Times bestsellers include I Wish You More and Duck!Rabbit!, created with Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, created with Sherri Duskey Rinker, and Stick and Stone, created with Beth Ferry. See all of his books at www.tomlichtenheld.com.
This is Brian Gehrlein in the future. Brian is the author of many of your favorite books—books that have yet to be written. Occasionally, Brian travels through time to see what you're reading and whether or not you like his extensive body of work. He takes copious notes on the books you like. He then travels back in time to reverse-engineer those very books. But the paradox is not lost on Brian...if he went to the future and saw books he had supposedly written from some time in the past and then traveled back in time to write them...who actually came up with the books in the first place!? In other words, would Brian have written any of them at all without first learning about their existence in one of his time-traveling escapades? It's one of those conundrums, ya know? To be honest, Brian isn't really sure how it all works and would prefer if you didn't ask questions about it. Look, if you have to know, he just walks into his time travel closet and does his market research, okay? He just does it. Drop the time travel questions, okay?! THESE THINGS ARE BEST LEFT ALONE SO STOP ASKING ALL THESE PESKY QUESTIONS! NO MORE QUESTIONS!!! Great. Now you've done it. All your incessant, nagging questions about the intricacies of time travel and its inherent paradoxes have made Brian very uneasy and he has now run crying into the time travel closet and shut the door. Who knows when Brian will return! Literally who knows when? The emoji code for this post is a clock. Toss a clock emoji in your retweet of this post for an additional five entries for the raffle. Now quit reading this and go do something more meaningful with your time. Because your time is running out. Tick. Tock. Tic. Tock. Tic. Tock...