Happy New Year!
Last month was spent on the book tour that stretches from the day after Thanksgiving until late December. My publisher, Penguin Random House sponsors, the tour. We thought, ?They really do things right? when a brand-new bus wrapped with The Tale of the Tiger Slippers - which is huge ? backed into the driveway. Our drivers Greg and Eddie are used to driving rock stars, but they couldn't be more professional. We loaded the bus with posters and newsnotes ? my printed illustrated letter to kids about the ins and outs of creating my tiger book, the new posters and a poster for The Snowy Nap, my easel and demonstration markers, sound system and best of all Hedgie a character costume that once a human is inside will greet the children at my signings.
After saying goodbye to Little Snow our arctic hare look-alike bunny and many, many chickens we took a moment to look at the twenty three stops on our three week tour ? knowing from past years it will be an experience to remember. Even though I spend only a precious few minutes with each child, parent, teacher, and librarian, every year, I am re-amazed at how we can reconnect in this highly charged situation. I am always revitalized by the dedication of educators across all the states and the vibrancy of the libraries that host my signings. We stop at bookstores as well.
Today is my day off, and once the bus stops rolling, I will be in heaven because I can get out my art supplies and work on Cozy my Musk Ox story set in Alaska. At Christmas time, I will be looking forward to visiting the Musk Ox farm in Palmer, Alaska to see ?Teal? our symbolically adopted young Musk Ox. I can?t wait to see the farm in the snow, surrounded by beautiful mountains north of Anchorage.
I will be also checking in by email with my wonderful editor, Susan Kochen. I worked with the wise and knowledgeable Margaret Frith for thirty years, and when she retired sadly ? we made many loved books together including The Mitten ? I began a fruitful and exciting partnership with Susan and also with Marikka Tamura the miracle inducing art designer. She creates the design of my books and dazzles with the display type among other things.
I?ll be asking Susan what she thinks of me illustrating Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky?s The Nutcracker suite. I have seen the ballet many times and have always dreamed of illustrating the mouse king, the Nutcracker himself, and the land of sweets and the world of Christmas magic the music evokes. If I get the go ahead, I will contact my talented wood sculpture friend, Chris Hawley to see if I can commission a nutcracker. He carved the gold leafed Polish Cockerel hen and rooster weathervanes for our barn and garage, and octopus sculpture for our house and two large Great Blue Herons for our houses entry way above the wrought iron ?Annie? door from my book Annie and the Wild Animals. I love when my illustration, our families mini-culture and Joe?s work, playing in the Boston Symphony converge!