June Hedge a gram
This is Jan Brett and this is my June Hedge a gram. I stop everything once a
month to tell about what is happening in my professional life as an
author/illustrator. The BEA or Book Expo America is a big convention in New York
City. The nation's publishers present next year's offerings to bookstores,
libraries and book lovers. I was there thanks to my publisher Penguin and I saw
bound copies of my fall 2013 book CINDERS, a chicken Cinderella for the first
time. It looked classic but very ornamented, with special treatments on the
jacket to make it stand out. My name is in a lovely copper foil, the display
type for the title is in a raised, lightly textured pale sparkle ombre, the
image of Cinders in her pumpkin sleigh pulled by Swedish Blue ducks is
highlighted by a varnish which gives the image both depth, and lastly a
jewel-like patina is added to Cinderís ornaments. Sheís in a fancy ball gown.
The options for the jacket printing are ordered in advance and added during the
printing. That means the full effect is only guess at. When I see the finished
book it is very dramatic. I signed advance copies of the book which are given
out for free at the Expo, and book lovers line up to receive an autographed
copy. I'm even beginning to recognize some of the loyal BEA goers that stand in
line every year.
At the publisher we spoke about our fall book tour which will last three weeks.
Since the chickens are the main characters in this book, we had a great time
imagining how fun it would be to have chicken owners across the country bring
their feathered friends to the booksignings. However, the book store owners did
not share our enthusiasm. My chickens are very docile and personable, but our
bus is a very small space to share with chickens, and I would worry they would
miss their coop where they have plenty of room to run around and perch at night.
My editor and I had a constructive meeting at the Standard Hotel before a party
put on by our publisher, Penguin for authors, illustrators and booksellers. I
have been working on my 2014 book, THE ANIMALíS SANTA. I've completed the dummy,
but a picture book is 32 pages and although I usually write for that amount of
pages, this time I have one scene too many. We discussed which scene would be
left out, and we will probably have to go back and rewrite part of the
manuscript. I have a completed dummy, which is a smaller size book I sew
together out of typing paper so I can visualize how the art will look in
sequence, the way one would see a finished book. Not only does that problem have
to be solved, but I was not happy about the border design. I have the "window"
in the shape of an owl which gives a hint from page one about who the animalís
Santa is. In the past, the windows have been in the shapes of eggs, hearts,
gingerbread cookies, mittens, and in the case of ON NOAH'S ARK in the shape of
various animals. I like the owl windows, but I chose porcupine needlework as the
background or to use the computer term, wallpaper. Because it is a native
American handicraft that I love and collect I thought it would be perfect, but
once painted in it looked drab, not beautiful and nuanced as it is in reality. I
love the birch bark I used in THE MITTEN and HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, but I wanted to
try something new. I'll spend the next few days trying different solutions
perhaps using knitted patterns that have a wonderful texture and are colorful
and have a cozy feeling. I might also add some evergreens in the border, since
the fragrance of balsam is so much a part of Christmas.
Once the book is finished and I see the beautiful bound copy, I sweep away all
the challenges and disappointments I feel when creating the book, and revel in
the world of creatures and folk crafts that form my new offering. Some books
stall out during the writing, some take a long time for the characters to feel
real, and this one may take extra time to iron out a perfect balance of
narrative, in the big images and decorative flourishes in the borders. Although
it is a Christmas book, I donít want it to look like a Christmas card. It is
childrenís literature first and foremost.
Good luck with your creative projects, and join me in doing all that good
problem-solving work that will hopefully produce a dynamic an artistic result.
Your friend, Jan