On making things better

By Sarah Lynne Reul

Recently, my book PET THE PETS (my third book … and very first novelty/lift –the-flap book) was released into the world!

Photo Aug 13, 9 32 57 PM

The concept began as sketches for a digital painting class that I took while completing my MFA degree in 2D Animation a few years ago. I wanted to create a series of 2-page flipbooks that could be united by similar characters and limited color palettes. original_sketch

Thanks to Simon & Schuster/Little Simon editor Jeffrey Salane, art director Laura Roode and my agent Emily Mitchell, it’s now a sturdy little lift-the-flap novelty book that invites readers to help out sad animals through petting, giving food or offering encouragement.

Just like in my other two books THE BREAKING NEWS & ALLIE ALL ALONG, I’ve found that there’s a recurring theme in PET THE PETS: there are small things that you can do to help make things better. 


I find that this concept also applies to my process of making the books themselves.

Sometimes, on rare, magical days,  everything seems to falls into place:  great, sweeping changes can be easily made by taking giant, seven-league steps of progress.

But mostly, I find, my work progresses in tiny baby steps, a series of small decisions, chosen one at a time, like when my optometrist flips through different lens options: Which one is better – one, or two? A or B? This one, or that one?  There’s no need to labor over every decision; each small choice adds up to an overall pattern that gets you where you need to go.

The choices that you make when creating a book, including what colors you use. . .


. . .who the characters should be . . .


. . . how each character’s features & expressions should look . . .

. . .what should be on the cover. . .


. . .each element evolves from a series of small decisions that ultimately defines what your book will be.

What small things do you do to help make things better in your own process of writing & illustrating?

Sarah Lynne Reul is an illustrator, writer and award-winning 2D animator who likes science, bright colors and figuring out how things work. Learn more at reuler.com.


  1. What a great page with the little sad dog! Kids will ADORE that.
    I agree with you on the few magic days. Too rare:)
    But there is also so much joy when we go slow and steady and finally reach a point of satisfaction.
    To help me go through I read my writing out loud. There is a little voice inside me that never lies and tells me how it sounds. The good and the bad parts. If I listen carefully then I can focus on the sections that need more work and revise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do LOVE that you have found this theme!
    “…there are small things that you can do to help make things better.”
    I know you will embrace and expand this idea into more wonderful books for readers.
    Keep going Sarah!

    Liked by 1 person

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