Martin Bruckner knows that little kids can have big thoughts.
The father of 5-year-old Harper has collected some of those big thoughts and illustrated them in “I Love You with all My Butt! An Illustrated Book of Big Thoughts From Little Kids,” inspired by his own family.
The creative spark happened over a dinner of spaghetti with Bruckner, his wife Michelle, and his then 2-year-old daughter, Harper.
“She had finished her food and now she was playing with it — it was in her ears, nose and then made it down to her toes,” Bruckner told TODAY. “And my wife looked at her said, ‘Please don’t put spaghetti between your toes.’”
With that quote, Bruckner started the Instagram account Spaghetti Toes Dad.
Bruckner started illustrating some of the funny things Harper said and posting them online — and people thought they were hilarious. Soon, he was getting requests from people asking him to draw quotes from their children, so he opened an Etsy shop.
Bruckner has been doing these drawings for two years now and he’s created more than 700 prints for families around the world.
“It’s so cool to me that it’s just family,” said Bruckner. “I wouldn’t have this without my wife or my daughter.”
His online success that led to a book deal, and the rest is history.
“I think there’s probably ten quotes from my daughter in there,” explained Bruckner. “But the rest are from all over the world.”
Brucker has even been able to use this medium to help others, and that, he says, has been the most rewarding result of his work.
“We’ve done some really amazing pieces for people who’ve lost children,” said Bruckner.
Bruckner has two favorite works. One is from a customer with a particularly curious child.
“There was one that just stands out in my mind,” said Bruckner. “'Is that a mirror or is that a way out of here?’ where half of her body is kind of reaching out through the mirror and she’s reaching out into the universe of stars. I just love that thought — just such curiosity.”
Finally, there is one favorite from Harper that Bruckner just keeps going back to.
“I think, at least from my daughter, I still go back to ‘I love you princess daddy,’” said Brucker. “That’s the essence of the book — little sweet or gross thoughts from kids.”