October Hedge a gram
This is Jan Brett and this is my October Hedge-a-gram, the time I take to share my diary of my life as a children's book illustrator. I knew I wanted to illustrate children's books for as long as I can remember and I would have enjoyed hearing about what an illustrator's life is really like. Of course, I would have strong opinions about what my pictures would be like, so I hope you do to. My favorite illustrators were Beatrix Potter, because she never talked down to children and because she had a quirky sense of humor Her books always contained new words that I could sense the meanings of, I didn't need to look them up in the dictionary. It was in her books that I was first introduced to hedgehogs an animal I have written about even though it doesn't live in my home country, the USA. For a horse crazy girl there were three unique illustrators that I enjoyed, analyzed and swooned over. Westly Dennis, who illustrated Marguerite Henry's books. When I read in his autobiography he was a polo player, I understood the authenticity of his horse paintings. Paul Brown illustrated with black line drawings. His horses were so expressive I learned how horses thought and reacted and recognized each as a portrait of an individual animal. Sam Savitt was also a giant technically and my best friend Marla and I treasured all of his books in our huge friendly town library. I met a child recently who was very frustrated about her horse drawing. I suggested that she find a good horse book with clear photos and trace the pictures, as a learning tool. Horses, people, and cats are very difficult to draw, but also favorites of many artist through the ages. Is it because they are so complex and graceful?
I'm looking forward to drawing the baby polar bear on the book tour. At every bookstore we stop at - there are 23 - I greet everyone with a talk about my new book, THE THREE SNOW BEARS. When I'm drawing baby bear in her parka, there's a lot for me to say about the sewing talents of the Inuit people and all I learned about Baffin Island. The Brookfield Zoo, it the Chicago area, has polar bears and I want to tell the children what it was like to touch one of them. Polar bears' fur consists of clear, hollow hairs which funnel the sun's warmth towards its black skin. Like many sea mammals the polar bear has a thick coat of blubber. He or she spends a lot of time in the water. I had a special stamp made of baby bear's face tucked in her parka hood. Every person at my booksigning can decide if they want the special stamp in their book.
When our decorated tour bus pulls up at our house, Joe and I will load hundreds of posters to give away at our signing to the first 100 people who arrive at each signing. All my blankets, rugs, and pictures are ready to transform the bus into a homey place. One important thing not to forget are my books on the arctic. Everyday on the bus, I'll be creating a coloring page to post on the website. The idea is that after 2 1/2 weeks, there will be enough art for web visitors to make a mural for their room or class. There will be sled dogs, seals, igloos, kayaks, and best of all, the three snow bears with their authentic Inuit clothes.
Happy drawing, writing, and reading,