This is Jan Brett, and this is my August Hedge a gram. Hello all the Leo
the Lions out there - three of my closest friends are Leos, my husband, my
daughter, and my husband's grandson, who is a good pal of mine. I am a
Sagittarius and we are supposed to get on well with Leos. I like my sign
because it has a horse in it, one of the animals I am most fascinated with,
which is why my very first book that I wrote was FRITZ AND THE BEAUTIFUL
HORSES. It's still in print, and you'll see it doesn't have borders. That's
because my editor at the time didn't feel overly decorated books kept a child's
interest. He was afraid of the too flowery look of some greeting cards. I
always like borders because I could spin off smaller stories that would add to
my book's theme. Even now, when I'm reading, I am happy to see any sort of
footnote that gives the reader insider information.
The second book I wrote ANNIE AND THE WILD ANIMALS, does have borders.
When I presented my book idea to that same editor, I said my borders would not
just be decorative, they would add to the content of my book. For me, artwork,
imagery and visual flights of fancy speak in a different language. Everyone who
has traveled to a foreign country is surprised to see how different colors make
themselves important. The blinding sunlit white Greek buildings, the green blue
of ice and snow in Arctic regions and the rich browns and golds of African
wildlife were all colors that knocked me out. When I visited the island of
Martinique in the Caribbean, I couldn't wait to paint the way the multi-colored
boats and houses looked against the blue sea and rich green jungle. I used
those colors in my version of THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT.
Right now, I have been adjusting the color palette in my THREE LITTLE
DASSIES book, which is set in Namibia. The rocks are pink red and the sand is
pale gold. The sky is a very deep blue, and you can see clearly for miles
because there is very little moisture in the air. The local women wear brightly
colored dresses which look very pleasing in the landscape, where trees and
vegetation are often bleached by the sun. In the borders of my book, I used
stripes of calico fabric that looks distinctively Namibian.
When I'm not working on my book, I go to Boston Symphony concerts at
Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts. My husband plays the double bass in he
orchestra, and I buy a seat where I have a good view of him. I wrote a book
about a bear that plays the double bass, BERLIOZ THE BEAR. Often while
listening to music I get ideas for my books. The ideas seem to pop in as the
music transports. Joe hasn't minded when I turn him into an animal or a
bird...so far at least.
We are planning a trip to Sweden this spring to do the research for next
year's book, tentatively called HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. Although trolls have been
cast in the role of the evil subhuman in Scandinavian folklore, the trolls in my
book have evolved into characters that are human-like but scruffy and
misguided. It will be instructive to go to Sweden and hear the folklore that
surrounds the troll. I will be looking at the countryside where my troll
character will have its adventures - a place where snowy owls, bear otter and
Many people have asked me if I'm Norwegian or Swedish perhaps because many
of my books are set in the Northern latitudes and have trolls and reindeer as
characters. I'm of English descent but I like to think when the Vikings raided
the British Isles hundreds of years ago, that my great, great, great, great,
great, great, grandfather may have come from Scandinavia. I don't know how to
explain my fascination with that part of the world.
Every time I write a hedge a gram I try to think of new ways to encourage
you to try writing and/or illustrating a story yourselves. Each person is a
bundle of likes, dislikes, attachments, curiosities and experiences and it makes
the creativity that you have such a precious and unique thing. I hope you will
try illustrating a story or even a sequence of events with some drawings, or
sketch out a story in words, you'll be glad that you did. Happy reading!
Bye for now,