July Hedge a gram
This is Jan Brett, and this is my July Hedge a Gram, my newsy letter to
kids and interested people that I put together so you can have a glimpse into my
life as an illustrator, and picture book writer.
Since July is the month where our country celebrates it's birthday, I would
like to make sure to thank all the men and women in the armed services, and
their families for their service. My daughter is a Marine, and I know how proud
I am of her and her husband for their service. They joke that Marines age in dog
years. Behind the joke is the truth that our Marines, Soldiers, Airmen and
Sailors work very hard in areas that range from hard to unpleasant to dangerous,
and although they rarely complain we have to take that extra step in our thought
processes to appreciate what they do. It's very hard when a spouse or Mom or Dad
is deployed, and I put some coloring pages on my website just for you. Color
them and e- mail to Mom or Dad so they can admire your art skills.
I am currently working on a picture book called The Story of Mossy. It's
about a turtle that grows a garden on her back, and is taken off to a museum
because she is such a marvel. She leaves behind another turtle that misses her
and remains faithful while she is making headlines at the museum. A little girl
talks the biologist into returning her back to her home and she is reunited with
I've finished the book dummy, the cartoon version of the story- a mock- up
of the 32 page book. I started out doing thumbnails" small versions of the
pages, but ended up starting over and creating a larger dummy so I could more
accurately realize all the nuances in the borders. My editor Margaret encouraged
me to work it out at the dummy stage rather than going to the finished artwork
too soon. It is always hard to hear that, but I have lot of trust in my editor,
and now I'm glad I did. It means I'm way behind schedule.
If you are working on a story, I can tell you it isn't always a smooth
process! The most important thing is to keep a high standard in your head and
keep moving. Like a lot of things, just spending all of dedicated time on the
I'm tremendously enthusiastic about finally reaching the finished artwork
stage. I have a new iPhone so I have been taking photos of local wildflowers on
my runs. We're currently living in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, and there is
a lot of natural beauty in the Tyringham valley.There is also a cascading brook
that runs three miles down our big hill, with lots of mossy, ferny habitat to
set Mossy's home in. I especially need lots of photos of little waterfalls.
Moving water is hard to capture, so I'll use the photos as my guide.
My book takes place in two locations, Mossy's home and the natural history
museum. On the museum pages I'm putting the museum collections in the borders.
The page I'm working on now is surrounded by rocks, minerals and gems. They are
fun and challenging to draw. I first went to the Harvard Museum to see their
collection, which is very inspiring. The different forms are out of this world,
some like the meteorites quite literally are from out of this world. I will have
collections of shells, fossils, beetles, orchids, bird's eggs, feathers, and
arrowheads in the borders. I'm not including any specimens of animals, although
that is always my favorite part of a natural history museum. I will never forget
the first time I saw a taxidermist Pangolin. A very unusual and seldom seen
animal. It looks like an anteater with a pinecone hide.
Even though my fall book tour is months away, we are finalizing our stops at
stores. I will be signing Home For Christmas. At the Book Expo, the book
industry's big convention, I saw the first bound copies. There is " foil" on the
Jacket, a sparkley material, that I saw for the first time as well. I love the
jacket. Now I just have to wait and see if people like mischievous trolls as
much as I do. There is a fascination with children that live with animals,
Romulus and Remus, Mogli in the Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling to name three. I
was always curious and envious. I tried to talk my parents into letting me
sleep in my horses' stall when I was in 5th grade but they wisely said no.
Finally I got to live vicariously through Rollo the troll when he moves in with
an owl family, bears, otters, becomes pals with a Lynx and finally a herd of
moose. It's always a bit anxiety provoking to have a book you've worked on
excitedly be just about released.
One book is finished, but not published yet, it will be in September,
another book is being worked on, and a third, the Turnip, is being planned for.
We are planning to go to St. Petersburg in early June of next year to look at
some Russian farms and rural architecture.
I hope all that summer energy is making you want to work on your writing
and art projects. I love to get out and do long distance runs and turn over
ideas for books in my mind. Happy Reading and Creating!
Your Friend, Jan Brett