Happy September!

     This is my September hedge a gram.    I'm hard at work doing the illustrations for Honey, Honey, Honey - a book set in Africa that stars a honey badger and a honeyguide bird.  The honeyguide bird is quite nice looking with a cream colored belly and brown back and wings.    He has yellow patches on his shoulders.  When I saw a honeyguide in Africa, I really stared at it, so I could remember its posture.  It was sitting on the branch of a huge baobob tree calling again and again.  Right underneath it there was a crack in the tree, and honeybees were zooming in and out.  We knew there must be honeycomb in there.  I'm trying to draw a honeyguide bird for my book that looks like the bird I saw in Africa, only with exaggerated expressions and body language.
     I've been studying the goldfinches and chickadees at our bird feeder to get ideas.  Also I watch my chickens and observe them.  Even though chickens are bigger and have different shaped bodies, they're still birds.  They can lift up the feathers on their heads and neck when they're trying to be bossy, or droop their wings when they're sleepy.  Sometimes, I'll just transfer their actions to my honeyguide if it expresses the story I'm telling.
    I have four weeks to work on my book before I go on the book tour.  I think about the children to come to meet me because someday some of them will be artists and I guess they want to see what it's like.   I never know if kids have parents and teachers that recognize their talent, so I am optimistic.   The world is a better place when someone has talent and he or she works hard to create pictures that reflect their ideas.  I thing that is one of the most exciting aspects of my book tour, when I meet the children that are artists and writers.
     At each book store I try to arrange to do a drawing and give some helper ideas for drawing.  When I describe how I how the idea of my next book The Umbrella, I am hoping the kids watching will by three steps ahead of me, imagining stories of their own.  My husband and I are going on a bus so we can bring some extras with us.  There will be free posters, a cloud forest backdrop in case you want a picture, my easel so I can draw you a picture.   Even Hedgie will be there and I'll have my "all about" letter and coloring pages and The Umbrella 2004 Tour buttons to give away.
     Most of all I want to meet everyone and hear about the books you like to read, what animals you like and get to see any artwork that you've brought with you for me to see.  Every day on the road, I'll do a black and white line drawing of a cloud forest creature and put it on our website.   I'll also be drawing leaves and plants.  After eighteen days, there should be enough pages to make a Cloud Forest mural, just like the forest we saw in Monteverdi, Costa Rica.
     Happy Reading and keep up the good work - see you soon!
                                  Your friend,

                                      Jan Brett