Review and Interview: Clarence and the Spoon, by Jeff Nitzberg

Clarence and the Spoon

Clarence and the Spoon, by Jeff Nitzberg

Clarence and the Spoon is a kitchen table fable created by crazed artist Jeff Nitzerg to appeal to strange children who demand more than just an ordinary story.

This book features:
Downright Silliness
Spectacular Soup-scapes
Kitchen-Bending Twists
A Cat

Get it at Jeff Nitzberg’s 

About the Author/Illustrator:

Jeff Nitzberg pledges allegiance to the power of imagination, is a freelance artist, illustrator, and filmmaker working in Austin, Texas. He listens exclusively to orchestrated movies scores. When he is not writing, drawing, and photographing, he eats, breathes, and loves movies.

For more info or to purchase Clarence and The Spoon visit:

or facebook/clarenceandthespoon

For more info about Jeff’s freelance work or illustration visit:

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If you could visit any time or place, when and where would you go?
I would love to go back in time and visit composer Jerry’s Goldsmith’s scoring sessions for the movie “Innerspace.”

If you could only read 3 books for the rest of your life, what would they be?

“To the Lighthouse” by Virgina Woolf, “Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut, and “The Complete Calvin and Hobbes” by Bill Waterson

Do you have a favorite TV show?

The Twilight Zone. All time number one.

What is your favorite season and why?

Summer. The best way to answer why is to watch the movie “The Sandlot.”

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I can’t think of much I’m not inspired by. They always stress in art school how you’re supposed to list your influences, but I’ve always tried to create something original and have my art come as much from my own imagination as possible. So influences tend to be more subconscious. I love genre, my friends, a really good story or a bad story, something funny. As far as Clarence and The Spoon goes, my biggest influence was Maira Kalman, specifically the sophistication of her stream of consciousness writing, the way she lays out the text, and the artfulness of her stories. You read her work and there is no sense that she compromised or was trying to make a book for a demographic. It’s just pure expression and vision.

Why did you decide to write/illustrate children’s fiction?

It started with an artist statement in college. I wrote the first few pages of Clarence nearly verbatim as an artist statement. Usually, artist statements are the most tedious and uninteresting… they’re what every artist dreads having to do because the end result is always you just trying to make up a new word for painting or observing or rendering. So my attempt at creating something interesting was just to write purely stream of consciousness. “Pick up that spoon shrieked Clarence’s mother…” was the first thing that came out of my head. Although I did not expect to write a children’s book, I worked on it for 8 years.

What is your favorite thing about writing/illustrating for children?

I don’t draw a huge distinction in my own storytelling between kids or adults. Adults tend to forget, as they grow, what it was like to be a child. I remember exactly what it was like being a kid, how the world seemed, the way I perceived adults. It’s important to not forget.

Is there anything about writing/illustrating that you find particularly challenging?

The hardest part is having a clear vision that takes time to get down. When an idea is in your head, the labor of getting it down can be tedious.

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer/illustrator?

A breakthrough for me was in high school when I read a story called “Game” by Donald Barthelme. It was a suspense story that used the repetition of words to build suspense and emphasis. It was at that moment I realized you could do things with words I didn’t know were possible. But I’d already been writing stories constantly at that point. “Game” was when I really realized the power of words and your own voice. It’s the day you stop copying comic book characters and start drawing your own ideas. It was kind of like that with writing.

What is the one book that everyone should read?

Anything by Roald Dahl.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I watch movies, make movies, come up with art and play creative games.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?


Favorite movie?
“Koyannisqatsi,” “Big,” with Tom Hanks, and “Sleuth” (1972) – it’s a 3-way tie, though I have many other favorites.

Any hidden talents?
I was pretty good at hockey but I hated the violence of it, so I stopped playing when I was pretty young. I liked all the puck handling, skating, and teamwork…  basically the hockey part, not the beat the other person up part.

What do you love the most about children’s books?

I love that children’s books aren’t concerned with limitations and potential seriousness of the adult world. The freedom you have when it’s summer time.

Pet peeves?

Is there anything that your audience should know about you?

I am the biggest movie music nerd.

What are your current projects?
Pitching for Nickelodeon, doing freelance illustration, and working on a new comic I’m pretty excited about.

What did you want to be when you grew up?


If you had any superpower, what would it be?

I wish I didn’t have to eat food or go to the bathroom, or go to sleep. Super-workaholic-non-bodily-


My Thoughts:
Get ready for some CRAZINESS!  Clarence and the Spoon is a super fun read full of magic and logic.  It is a tongue twisting compilation of incredible illustration, design, and story telling.
This book quickly became one of my daughter’s favorite picture books and she would ask to read it over and over again.  Her favorite part is where the spoon whispers into Clarence’s ear.  She thinks the spoon looks hilarious.
I enjoyed this book almost as much as my daughter.  The illustrations especially grabbed my attention and the design was done well and fit with the theme of the book.  The story itself was interesting and told in weird, complicated words that probably sound like gibberish to most kids, but carries a level of entertainment and sophistication that I don’t often see in picture books.
Get it at Jeff Nitzberg’s 

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  • Reply
    Adriana (BooksOnHerMind)
    March 11, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    His art looks very silly/twisted – in a good way of course. It makes me very interested into what this book is all about.
    I wish I could give this guy a high five. Twilight Zone is such amazingness. There's this show that comes on at midnight in one of those old tv channels. I can't remember it now but it also has very twisted and really dark stories.
    Sandlot is the best and Summer too. Those who complain it's too hot are crazy.
    Ha! Stupidity is a pet peeve of mine too.
    I really want to know what he's pitching to Nickelodeon. I must visit his website now.

    • Reply
      March 12, 2013 at 2:44 am

      This was seriously one of the funnest interviews. I love all his answers! The Sandlot is the best movie ever and Roald Dahl is awesome.

  • Reply
    Renee C.
    March 12, 2013 at 3:35 am

    I TOTALLY want that same super-power!! I get so annoyed when I have to go to the bathroom when I'm in the middle of having to do something or having to stop to eat because I'm hungry. It's such a nuisance! I keep complaining about this very thing all the time! lol Thanks for linking your post in the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

    • Reply
      March 12, 2013 at 5:11 am

      I know. I never would have thought of that super power, but now that it's been mentioned, I would totally want it.

  • Reply
    Showers of Books Giveaway Hop | title
    September 5, 2015 at 1:35 am

    […] This giveaway is being sponsored by Jeff Nitzberg, author and illustrator of Clarence and the Spoon.  You can read my review on the book by clicking HERE. […]

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