Happy August to you!

As some of you may know, I write a hedge-a-gram every month in answer to the children and sometimes adults who write and ask me what being an illustrator is like. I love my job. I can't wait to start painting everyday and I want to share the experience with you. Right now my children's book for the fall of 2001, Happy Hens, is half finished. My editor has been talking to me about changing the title. It might turn out to be called Fine Feathered Friends!

Every day I go down to my hen house and catch up with my five hens. I feed them and then I let them loose so they can run around. I always bring them a treat too. They eagerly tear back into their pen to be first for the treat when it's time to go in. That way, I don't have to run after them, they run after me. I've very pleased because our friend, Billy, built a new sturdy pen which will keep my five hens safe from predators. After Bluebell, Pansy, Dahlia, Daisy, and Chrissy are set for the day, I go up and paint my hen characters for my new book. I try to remember all of their antics. Have you ever had a pet you've turned into a character?

The one thing I wish all kids could see is a hen taking a dust bath. After selecting a nice sunny, dusty, sandy, soft spot, the hen flops down on her side. Then she kicks and flaps her wings, and rolls over and over. She rests for a minute and then is at it again until she's coated with dirt. The first time I saw one of my pullets do this, I though she was a goner. Then I thought she might live, but she'd never be clean again. Luckily hen's feathers look cleaner then ever afterwards. I love to watch hens' dust baths so much I even put one in my book. Occasionally, I'll see a song bird take a dust bath too. Keep an eye out, maybe you'll see one!

I am starting to look ahead toward fall and we are planning a book tour. I've posted all of the cities and towns on my Internet site at http//www.janbrett.com/tour.htm. It's a great opportunity for me to meet other book lovers and kids that love drawing, writing and reading. That's especially nice for me because my daughter is all grown up!

I hope you enjoy August and I hope you'll have a chance to be outside to observe nature and our friends the birds.

Bye for now,

Your friend,