• Ratha Tep

Interview with The Fan Brothers, LIZZY AND THE CLOUD

It’s a little out of fashion to buy a pet cloud, but Lizzy doesn’t mind. She’s not looking for a big one or a fancy one, just one that’s right for her. And she finds it in Milo. Soon, she’s taking Milo out on walks with her family, watering Milo right on schedule, and seeing Milo grow and grow. But what happens when her pet cloud gets too big for Lizzy to handle?

Max's Boat Pick:


LIZZY AND THE CLOUD

By Terry Fan and Eric Fan

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (May 3, 2022)

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Can you tell me the origin story behind Lizzy and the Cloud?

Eric: "Hi Ratha, thanks so much for your questions. Like most of our books, Lizzy and the Cloud has its origins in a standalone image. When we were talking about our next book, we both liked the image and agreed there might be a story there."


Terry: "A good image to use as a springboard is one that seems to already have a story floating around the margins of it. It’s often just a question of building upon that image and expanding it into a story. After thinking about the image, we went for a walk along the beach and talked about what that story could be, and when I got home I wrote a first draft based on that discussion, and then Eric read it and contributed to the text and edited it down a bit. It was one of those rare times where the story fell into place fairly

quickly."


Eric: "The original image that sparked our discussion was actually from a chapter book I had been working on maybe twenty-five years ago. I happened to be cleaning out my locker one day and found piles and piles pages of writing from that book. On one sheet, there was a rather dreadful little scribble of a character selling clouds:

But it was an idea that seemed to have some story potential. The text beside the drawing read, 'A sound like firecrackers on a string crackled through the dark clouds whenever the lightning flashed, and there was the faint smell of flint in the air. And there, through the grey drizzle, where the grass was so drunk with rainwater it couldn’t stand up anymore, was the Nimbus. He was an odd little assortment, with his yellow, too-big feet and his tattered jacket with buttons down the front as blue as the sky. 'Rainclouds! Rainclouds for sale!' said the Nimbus.'"


After seeing that, I did an updated drawing which I called 'The Cloud Seller':

Terry: "We thought it would be fun to introduce a character who buys one of those clouds, and then find out what happens after. I suggested we could name the girl Lizzy, which is the name of our art director at Simon & Schuster, Lizzy Bromley. Like me, she’s also part of the Cloud Appreciation Society (yes, it exists) and so we thought it would be a fitting gesture."


Eric: "As far as the story goes, when we lived in Florida when we were kids we used to go out after rainstorms to rescue turtles from the roadways. After a while, we soon had a whole collection of turtles that we kept in a wading pool. It became a bit unmanageable eventually. The time came when our dad said they would really be happier free, so we drove out to a nice wooded area with a pond and released them all. I remember watching them all crawling away and hoped they found a happy life in the forest. So, all of those things kind of informed the story. To a certain extent the story is a metaphor for parenting, or for the writing process itself. There’s always that anxious moment when you have to let your grown kid, or your story, out into the world to fend for itself, and you hope the world is kind to it."


For those who love Lizzy and the Cloud, can you recommend a few other titles you think they might also enjoy?


Eric: "There’s actually a great number of books that feature clouds in one form or another. I loved Kumo: The Bashful Cloud by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Nathalie Dion.


I also loved Red Sky at Night by Elly MacKay. It isn’t specifically about clouds, but it’s about the weather, so somewhat related. She also has a book coming out this year called In the Clouds. I haven’t read it yet, but it looks gorgeous."




Terry: "I love anything by Tomie dePaola so I’d recommend The Cloud Book, which is a charming

book that is a great scientific introduction to clouds."