June 2010 Hedge a gram

Happy June!    I’m Jan Brett, and this is my June Hedge-a- gram, the time I stopped everything to give you a time capsule of this month in my life as a children’s book writer and illustrator.     In the last two weeks, I’ve seen my new book for the fall, THE THREE LITTLE DASSIE for the first time, and I’ve completed the dummy for my 2011 book, HOME FOR CHRISTMAS.     My husband and I traveled to the Book Expo the US’s premier book festival held every year in May.  This year it was in New York City.  Although THE THREE LITTLE DASSIES won’t be sold in bookstores until next fall, the early copies were flown in to give away at the book signings at BOOK EXPO.  It is the first time I’ve seen the book put together.  I spent two weeks painting end papers, the usually solid colored paper that glues the body of the book onto the covers.  In this book the end papers are decorative.  We changed the jacket art just as the book was going to press which involve a lot of fast readjustments in Penguins professional and dedicated art department.  The jacket has embossed or raised type face and I saw that for the first time.  The goal is for the book to become greater than a semblance of its parts.  We all want it to become a future classic with characters, setting, and plot all in balance, with an intriguing but warm and friendly jacket to welcome and entice readers.  It was difficult to scratch weeks and weeks of work off by canceling the first jacket, but our goal is a jacket with the right tones, and a design by one of Penguin’s designers, Ed Scully, leapt up off the page and compelled the change.   Marikka Tamura , the Penguin designer who chooses the typeface and colors that grace the jacket hit all the perfect notes as well.  It is a privilege to work with such a talented team.
    The dummy is all in my court, and after discussions about the basic plot of the story of HOME FOR CHRISTMAS and then an okay of the basic draft, I presented my dummy to Margaret Frith my editor of 20 years.  I’ve just come back from a week and a half in Sweden, shepherded by our Swedish friends,  Elof and Gudrun Eriksson.  We were able to spend time on a farm abundant with wildlife in southwest Sweden and go on a guided trip above the Arctic circle.  My book dummy reflected much of the impressions I got from the austere and elegant landscapes and encounters with wildlife in Sweden.
     The major achievement of our trip was encounters with habituated Moose in Kiruna, the jumping off place to Sweden’s Arctic North.  We met an attractive and knowledgeable Swedish moose aficionado.  He had five adult Moose and one calf that lived on a huge tract of land.  When we called him to arrange our Moose experience he promised to wait and feed them when we arrived.  To his word, the moose ambled toward the feeding station at the sound of his whistle.  They have ample grazing, so they were quite relaxed about joining us.  The bulls are not approachable during breeding season in the fall, but this was spring, and they were as affectionate as horses.  The antlers, which were velvety knobs, because they had just started growing, were kind of itchy and they have learned that tourists will rub them.  One of the moose gave our guide a trained kiss on the cheek and I managed to get a big kiss onto their velvety cushiony noses.  It made me miss having a horse.  Their eyes were very intelligent and once one adjusted to their bodies not being horselike, a person can appreciate the majestic presence of this animal, with its long brindled northern fur coat, its black cloven hooves and elegant palmated antlers.     On the day we left Sweden, traveling over a vast stretch of land with melting snow drifts revealing lichen, mosses and endless shining lingonberry bushes, we found a huge moose antler shed last winter. Hefting its heavy weight, it really felt like a fitting crown for the majestic King of the North! 
In my book, the troll boy encounters an antlered animal, and I had to decide between a moose and reindeer.  After my visit to Arctic Sweden the answer was obvious.
     This month I’ll work on the first finished spread, I’ll design the borders and nail down the characters – father troll, mother troll, sister troll, and my main character Rollo Troll.  It’s always a wild ride in my imagination, and the best part of creating a children’s book – is all so hopeful.
     If you’re going on a trip this summer, close or far, familiar or unfamiliar, think of it as an expedition for getting ideas for your own book.  Your experience may take you to an unexpected place!     Happy reading, your friend,

                        Jan Brett

  1. #1 by Susan Bertsch on June 14, 2010 - 2:43 am

    Jan, I am currently working on a paper for a literature class showing how I incorporate a book – yours of course – into all of the standards in a regular classroom. For the paper, I chose The Three Snow Bears and showed how we could study not only folktales but other cultures as well. Thank you for all of your research with this book, as I am enjoying learning along with my students. I am excited to see your new book that is coming out. It will fit beautifully into our folktale unit. All of the students in my classroom know & love your books and learn so much at the same time!

    Sue Bertsch
    Thornton, Colorado

  2. #2 by Susan Ramie on June 14, 2010 - 10:25 pm

    I have loved your books since I first read one of them in an elementary school classroom that I was subbing in. Your subject ideas and art lead me into exploring your books and then I don’t want to put them down. I’m a writer myself and I’m planning to publish a children’s book about a local neighborhood squirrel that I found to be athletic and curious. My oldest daughter, Laura, is going to be helping me do the illustration. She will be in her senior year of illustration at California College of the Arts in San Francisco in September. I think, she’s wonderful, especially with her animal illustration. Her illustrations seem to come to life and have a personality of their own. After she graduates, she wants to illustrate Fairy Tales and Celtic Folktales. I can’t wait for your new Christmas book to come out. Thank you for your blog.

  3. #3 by Ane Mulligan on June 15, 2010 - 3:49 pm

    Jan, I received one of your books for review. Since I don’t have small children, I gave it to a friend who teaches 2nd grade. She effused over it as she and her kids love your books. She read it to her grade class and then had the children write reviews. I’d love to send these to you or your publisher. Would you email me with an address? Thank you.

  4. #4 by Jan Brett on June 16, 2010 - 3:39 pm


    I’d love to see them. You can mail them to the address in the Contact Jan section of my Home Page.

  5. #5 by nicholas on December 17, 2010 - 6:45 pm

    Hi my name is nicholas i love your books! bye

  6. #6 by Magssno on April 14, 2011 - 5:18 pm

    My kids love your books, we often curl up and read them at bed time

  7. #7 by Brian Williams on April 23, 2011 - 4:01 am

    I was just doing a search for your books and came across your blog. So while I’m here and given that it is Easter weekend, I would just let you know that I’m looking forward to reading The Easter Egg to my daughter this weekend. We love your books!

  8. #8 by selena on May 9, 2011 - 8:53 am

    your books are great! my little cousin loves them! Only problem is she wants it read to her about two times ever night! 🙂

    Author at Cellulean

  9. #9 by Michelle on May 23, 2011 - 5:33 am

    Ms. Jan,
    I LOVE every book I have read of yours. I am working on my BA and MA in Special Education. I teacher 2.5 – 5 year olds in an inclusive classroom. I am currently doing an Author Study and since I have so many of your books I decided who best to research than you. Thank You for all you do in your writings and illustrations. You truly bring us all in. Also, thank you for the website with tools for educators.

  10. #10 by Sheridan Berry on July 11, 2011 - 8:16 am

    Hi Jan, you’re books are great, and I know 3 little daisies will also be a classic book for the toddlers and the young at heart. I’m looking forward to reading your books with my future siblings. More power to you!

  11. #11 by Ria Plate on February 9, 2012 - 6:40 am

    Great post! And your books is so amazing. My kids love it and refuse to go to bed at night without me reading it to them.

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