April 2014 Hedge a gram

Hedgie and Jan Brett greeting the students at
Oakview Elementary School, in  Simpsonville, South Carolina.

Happy April!

This is Jan Brett and this is my April Hedge a gram.   It’s the time I take when I stop my work on my book, take a breath, and try to communicate what I’m doing in my profession.  When I was young, I desperately wanted to be a children’s book illustrator, and I wanted to know what it was like to live that life.  I’m hoping that by describing all the activities we’re doing, it may give some insight to future artists, writers, and teachers of children’s literature.
I am in beautiful Greenville, South Carolina, at the historic Poinsett Hotel.  Yesterday, I spoke and meet all of the children at Oakview Elementary School.  This school won the school and library visit contest last year.   The Upcountry History Museum in Greenville is having an exhibit of artwork from fifteen of my books and last night my husband Joe and I went to a reception.   It’s a fascinating museum specializing in the history of Northwestern South Carolina.  The museum mounted not only my illustrations, but also a superb collection of student artwork from Oakview School.  Two pieces of art from the student’s exhibit were given to me.  They will have a place of honor in our house.  The children used some of my techniques, such as using details, and borders and animal characters.  Then they took their art to another level using interesting mediums such as torn paper, and collage and metal work plus their own soaring imaginations.  It was very inspiring for me to see such talented ingenuity.  Please, please, please, take some time to create your artwork, or write down your thoughts.  The world becomes a vibrant and exciting place when one is surrounded by creativity and beauty.  I spoke to every child at Oakview School and asked them about their interests.  Almost every child not only had a creative interest, they loved reading but also did a sport.   When I asked them what their dream vacation would be, I was impressed by how many want to go somewhere exciting and interesting and different.   And answers were as varied as Hawaii, Miami, Russia, India, China and Dubai.  I felt I was among kindred spirits because I have found travel has helped me create my books.
My school visit to Newfoundland two years ago, definitely influence my decision to set my fall 2014 book, THE ANIMAL’S SANTA in northern Canada. The animal characters are from northern Canada, Arctic Fox, Porcupine, Moose, Lemmings, Red Squirrels, Snowshoe Hare, and Snowy Owl.  The borders are inspired by Native American Porcupine quill embroidery that I first started collecting on a trip to Canada.  I’m currently working on my newsletter to children about how I got the idea for my book.   It includes descriptions of the beautiful first people’s native embroidery.  The letter tells about the Snowy Owl, which remarkably was very visible in my area of Massachusetts this winter.  The Snowy will travel southward when the Lemming and Snowshoe Hare populations are sparse.  We even had a Snowy in the next town to us, Scituate.
I have done one page of my 2015 book, THE TURNIP and have sent it to my editor to see.  We are still working on the manuscript because it will be set in an appropriate typeface and I will know how much room to leave in the artwork.  When I first send the page, it is always a bit of a wrench because we are still trouble shooting at this point.  I have to steel myself  for  any criticism and be honest with myself and be open to the fact that the criticism might just be right.  I say this because it is easy to think a book just flows like a fountain of creativity and there are  no mis-steps.   I have an editor who I really trust and I also listen to my husband, Joe, who although he is a musician has very straight forward and helpful opinions.
It turns out that my school visit has come at a perfect time, because after seeing how much Oakview School strives for excellence and has succeeded, I want to do so as well.
Have fun being creative and keeping up the high standards we all so admire.

Your friend,

Jan Brett

  1. #1 by Anyes Pelaez-Vedel on July 18, 2014 - 9:53 am

    Dear Jan Brett,
    My family and I are big fans of yours and own all your books.
    They will be passed on to a younger generation in order to make their bedtime richer and a special moment in the day to be looked forward to.
    Merci infiniment for writing these pieces of art.

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