Actor Nathan Lane spent a lot of time in book stores and libraries while growing up in New Jersey.

“They were magical places to me,” he admitted to more than 1,000 attendees at the annual Children’s Book and Author Breakfast in New York. “I loved Stuart Little books…perhaps because he was different. I felt different, too.”

Lane co-wrote a new children’s picture book, “Naughty Mabel,” with Devlin Elliot about an entitled French bulldog who bears an unmistakable likeness to the pet that shares Lane and Elliot’s home.

“I have to admit the real Mabel is highly-strung,” he concedes. “She is extremely stubborn, a little neurotic and a little needy – it’s like living with Gwyneth Paltrow.”

He describes the character in his book as “an amiable tornado, a happy-go-lucky oil spill,” whose surrogate parents love her unconditionally. He hopes that the story celebrates “family of all kinds.”

“Picture books have a very special place in our culture,” he says. “They are inherently a theatrical experience…essentially, a one-act play. We tried to write a great part for parents – who have to read the book, we hope,  for many encore appearances.”

Lane and Elliot “are thrilled and humbled” to be children’s book authors and to be among “people who are hell-bent on getting the right books into the right kids’ hands. If that is not an honorable profession, I’d like to know what is.”

Lane shared the stage with Oliver Jeffers, Rainbow Rowell and James Patterson.