This is Jan Brett, and this is my August Hedge a gram. I stop everything and
search my mind for tidbits having to do with my children's book-in-progress that
young authors might find curious or helpful. I try to be strictly honest,
because there are ups and downs to any creative project. Mostly, I am an
optimist and I am so happy that drawing and imagining can be my job.
The book I'm working on is an adventure for my Gingerbread Baby character. He's
a little cookie guy that starred in my book, The Gingerbread Baby. He's rascally
and fun with lots of spirit, just like a lot of kids. In my story he tries to
make a friend, and he goes about it the right way. Only trouble is, the cookie
people and animals he confronts in the fancy bakery don't have the spark of life
like he has. As a young reader, I liked reading about characters that have an
unexpected gift of life, Winnie-the-Pooh, a stuffed animal, the dish that runs
away with the spoon in the nursery rhyme, and Mike Mulligan's steam engine are
characters like that. Even now as a grown up I give our cars names. My car is
Jato, and my husband's is Hippo. When I was growing up, we lived near the water
and our boat not only had a name, Jennifer, but she had a personality. Sometimes
when we were in huge waves, out of sight of land it was almost like having a big
strong friend to rely on.
I just read my new favorite book, Wild Trees, by Richard Preston. It's about the
giant redwood trees of the United State's Northwest Pacific rain forest and the
men and women who love and study them. It made sense to me that each tree was
given a name. One of the arborist spoke about the life of these trees. They are
two thousand years old. If you compress their time lines it is illuminating to
see how they react to their environment. As trees, they live so slowly, it's
hard for us to grasp how alive they are. I liked being shocked to discover the
majesty of the tree's life. If you have read The Lord of the Rings trilogy, you
know about the Ents, ancient tree being. It's a good example of how a truth of
nature can be storied by an imaginative writer.
My challenge to you this month is to write a story, in words or pictures, about
an inanimate object. You, the author give it life and a story. Here's a
suggestion for how to get going on your story. An effective way to turn the
magic on is a device that changes the usual course of things. In Alice in
Wonderland, she falls down a rabbit hole. No wonder flowers can talk down there.
In Gingerbread Baby, Mattie the cook doesn't wait the eight minutes for his
cookie to be baked, he peeks, after the directions say not to. Aladdin rubs the
lamp and the genie appears. What will you think up?
Your friend that loves book too.