October Hedge a gram

Happy October!

     This is my October hedge a gram -- the time I tell about what I'm doing in my profession as an illustrator.  My work is wrapped up with my day to day life.  I sit and paint everyday, but I'm figuring out next year's book and I'm planning my booksigning trip for this year's book, On Noah's Ark, which has just been published.
    At the end of the month, I'll be traveling in a great big bus across the country stopping at bookstores to sign On Noah's Ark.  The bus has been decorated with artwork from my new book -- you can see a photograph on my website.  My publisher decides which states and stores I'll go to, but I decide how long I can be away from my art desk.  In other years I've gone by plane, but this year I wanted to add places that may not be close to big cities.  I'll be bringing posters to give away, newsnotes to give away and extra bookplates that I've signed.  I helped design a backdrop, so if someone wants to have their book signed they can also have their picture taken in front of my painting of Noah's Ark and all the animals.   The Hedgie character will be at each signing.  At every store I'll ask children to choose a favorite animal, then we'll have a drawing from all of the suggestions.   Every night as I ride down the road on the bus, I'll draw a coloring page of that animal and post it on the web.  After 22 stores there will be enough animals to create a diorama on your bulletin board or classroom wall.  I'm going as far south as Mississippi and as far north as Minnesota and as far west as North Dakota.  I hope I'll meet you and that I can sign your book.  I especially like to see kid's drawings, it's inspirational.  Children's art has a freshness that is often lost as we grow up, and each person's work is unique.
     I'll miss working on my book The Umbrella.  I'm almost finished.  Next, I'll be thinking of artwork for the jacket.  Here's a challenge for you.  The next time you have a report due, think about designing a cover for it with an illustration.  You know how they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words?"  I'll bet your teacher will give you a lot of respect for your hard work.  You may find you enjoy choosing the lettering for the title and your name.  You could add designs too, on the cover, to give a feeling about what's inside.  It could be a real standout!   I try to make my jacket art ask a question, so that a person seeing it becomes curious and wants to look inside.
    So my thoughts are with On Noah's Ark, because I'll be signing on tour, and giving 1,000 copies of my new book away to schools and libraries in the "Find the Extinct Animals in On Noah's Ark" contest on my Internet site.
    My thoughts are also with The Umbrella, because that's what's on my art table, but I have a third book in my mind.  It's about the curious honeyguide bird.  This is a real bird that lives in Africa.  It's not amazing in its looks, like the dodo in On Noah's Ark, or the resplendent quetzal in The Umbrella.  Its behavior is what's remarkable.  The honeyguide likes to feast on honey and bee's wax.  Only bees are smart about where they keep their honey!  They build their hives in a strong tree where it's protected.  The honeyguide is smarter still!  It finds a person, perhaps walking on a trail, and it flits around the person as if to say, "Follow me, follow me!"  The honeyguide bird leads the person to the bee tree and when the man or woman breaks open the tree, the honeyguide gets a share of the honeycomb.   Legend has it that something bads happens to a person who doesn't share with a deserving honeyguide and that is what will make a good story!  I'm planning a trip back to Botswana, Africa to see the kind of country the honeyguide lives in.  One of the reasons I picked this story is so I could go back to beautiful Botswana.
     I hope to see you on my book tour!  Happy drawing!

      Bye for now.
                                  Your friend,

                                    Jan Brett