Lane Smith (illustrator)

Lane Smith (born August 25, 1959) is an American illustrator and writer of children's books. He is the Kate Greenaway medalist (2017) known for his eclectic visuals and subject matter both humorous and earnest, such as the contemplative Grandpa Green which received a Caldecott Honor in 2012 and the outlandish Stinky Cheese Man which received a Caldecott Honor in 1992.


Smith was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but moved to Corona, California at a young age.[1] He spent summers in Tulsa, and cites experiences traveling there via Route 66 as inspirations for his work which combines high and low brow elements.

He studied at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, at the encouragement of his high-school art teacher, Dan Baughman, helping to pay for it by working as a janitor at Disneyland. While still a student he illustrated for alternative newspapers, L.A. Weekly, L.A. Reader and for the punk magazine No Mag. He also illustrated album covers for Oingo Boingo, Good For Your Soul and The Dickies Stukas Over Disneyland. He graduated from Art Center in 1983 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration and moved to New York City where he freelance illustrated for various publications including TIME, Mother Jones, Ms., Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, The Progressive, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, Sesame Street Magazine, and others.

Smith is married to Molly Leach, who has designed many award-winning books, including nearly all of Smith's.

Children's books[]

Smith is most noted for his work on bestselling and award-winning children's books. He has won the British Kate Greenaway Medal (There Is a Tribe of Kids), the Bratislava Golden Apple (The Big Pets), two American Caldecott Honors (The Stinky Cheese Man and Grandpa Green), five New York Times' Best Illustrated Book awards (Halloween ABC, The Stinky Cheese Man, John, Paul, George & Ben, Grandpa Green and A House That Once Was), and lifetime achievement awards from the Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (2012),[2] and the Society of Illustrators (2014).[3] His illustrations are created in varying media: oil paint, pen and ink, pencil, watercolor, collage and digital. Smith's artwork is also known for its experimental, textural nature. In a 2017 exhibit at the Eric Carle museum of Picture Book Art, Collecting Inspiration, Smith's written appreciation for the art of Alice and Martin Provensen gives us insight into his own philosophy. The statement read: “Some picture book artists are very consistent with their style, which is probably a good thing for business and career. My favorite artists are the ones who try a different look with every book. That’s why I like the Provensens. Everything they did had a lot of experimentation going on. Like children who haven’t yet been told not to splatter ink onto their drawings, or not to mix oil paints with watercolors, or that the sky is blue, not green … [In my own paintings] from The Stinky Cheese Man I made the textures by combining oil paint with water-based varnishes. You’re not supposed to do that. It makes the paint bubble up like little pebbles.

He has illustrated works by Florence Parry Heide, Judith Viorst, Bob Shea, Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky, Eve Merriam, Roald Dahl, George Saunders, Jory John, Chris Harris, and Julie Fogliano. He has both written and illustrated several books, most notably It's a Book (2010), which was a New York Times bestseller for over six months and has been translated into over twenty-eight languages; The Happy Hocky Family (1996), The Happy Hocky Family Moves to the Country! (2002), Madam President (2008), John, Paul, George, and Ben (2006), and A Perfect Day (2017).

On May 5, 2015, Roaring Brook Press published Smith's first middle-grade novel, Return to Augie Hobble, which received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Booklist. It was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year.

He is also known for his collaborations with Jon Scieszka. Introduced by their wives, Molly Leach and Jeri Hansen in the late 1980s the two collaborated on several award-winning and bestselling books from 1989 to 2007. Their two most popular books, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! (1989) and The Stinky Cheese Man (1992) made lists by both TIME magazine and School Library Journal ranking them among the 100 best all-time picture books. (The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, number 35, and The Stinky Cheese Man, 91).[4] Smith has also illustrated some volumes of Scieszka's The Time Warp Trio novels.

He is a five-time recipient of the New York Times' Best Illustrated Book award.

In 2012 he was named a Carle Honor Artist for lifelong innovation in the field of children's books.[5]

In 2014 he received the Society of Illustrators' Lifetime Achievement award.[6]

Smith's artistic talents have also been featured in other books and mediums. He illustrated one ion of Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, and was Conceptual Designer for the 1996 Disney movie adaptation. He contributed conceptual designs for Disney and Pixar's Monsters, Inc. and the film adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. Smith wrote and directed the 35mm short Water Ride (1994) which starred Bill Irwin. It aired on PBS and the Bravo Channel and was screened at the Hamptons International Film Festival among others.


Some listings may not be first ions.

As writer and illustrator[]

As illustrator[]

Written by Jon Scieszka

Smith has also illustrated some installments of Scieszka's The Time Warp Trio series of novels.[clarification needed]

By other writers

Awards and Honors[]


  1. ^ "Lane Smith". Penguin Books. Archived from the original on 5 January 2009. Retrieved 27 February 2010.
  2. ^ "Carle Honors Past Honorees - Carle Museum".
  3. ^ [1] Archived March 23, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Bird, Elizabeth (July 6, 2012). "Top 100 Picture Books Poll Results". A Fuse #8 Production. Blog. School Library Journal ( Archived from the original on December 4, 2012. Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  5. ^ "Carle Honors Past Honorees - Carle Museum".
  6. ^ [2] Archived March 23, 2015, at the Wayback Machine

External links[]