Q: What inspired you to write The Thing Lenny Loves Most About Baseball?
A: I’ve loved baseball since I watched my first Montreal Expos game as a kid. I remember trying to figure out how a pitcher does their wind-up. I couldn’t figure out which foot to lift or how to kick or how to throw. I had to practice for a while to get it right.
My son started playing baseball when he was in kindergarten. We became a baseball family and spent many mornings, afternoons, and evenings at the ballpark. It’s a lovely way to spend time.
Many have remarked that baseball is a game of failure. The best batters are successful less than half the time. Recognition that failure is part of the game can be liberating. It can take the pressure off. It can also inspire a desire to improve.
As a baseball parent, I spent a considerable amount of time soothing my son when he felt like a failure. I spent even more time practicing with him, recognizing that he wanted to get better and that the only way to get better was to keep playing.
I wanted to write a story about a kid who realizes that, in baseball, good enough is actually good enough. You don’t have to be a superstar. You don’t have to be the best.
Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book says, “This motivational tale, set against the potent backdrop of a compassionate parent-child relationship, will remind readers that improvement requires persistence.” What do you think of that assessment, and what do you hope kids take away from the book?
A: I hope kids can see themselves in the character of Lenny. I hope they will come away from the book feeling that they don’t have to be the best at anything. A general lowering of expectations can go a long way towards reducing anxiety and increasing enjoyment in all aspects of our lives.
I also want kids to recognize that the quest to improve can be fun, whether we want to get better at drawing or writing or catching fly balls.
Q: What do you think Milan Pavlovic's illustrations add to the book?
A: I love the world Milan has created. As an author, it is an amazing thing to witness my words come to life through the art of another. I think Milan captures Lenny’s joys and frustrations wonderfully.
Q: How do you think the Toronto Blue Jays will do next year?
A: One of the things I love most about baseball is that there is always a next year or a next season. I hope the Blue Jays do just a tiny bit better than they did this year. This year they were so close.
One of the other things I love about baseball is that it can be fun. I’ve enjoyed watching the Blue Jays’ players have a ton of fun this year. Their “homerun jacket” is worthy of its own book. I hope the tradition continues.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m working on a bunch of different projects and each is at a different stage. I have just started writing a picture book biography about an ordinary person who has done extraordinary things.
The next book I have coming out is a sequel to A Squiggly Story. It comes out in Spring 2022. It’s called (wait for it…) Another Squiggly Story. The narrator’s class is assigned a project in which they have to write a story about themselves. We follow the narrator’s trials and tribulations as they are immersed in the creative process.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I am excited about the books I have coming out over the next few years. Each book is like a season of baseball. Some are successful and some are less so. Some are great and some are good.
One of the things I love most about being an author is that there are always more stories to tell, more books to publish. There is always another season…
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Andrew Larsen.