April Hedge a Gram
It' 's spring here in Massachusetts, and it makes me want to get out into
the woods to see if I can spot any turtles, especially Eastern Box turtles,
because that's what kind of turtles Mossy and Scoot, the main characters of my
new book are. I named " Mossy" for her little garden that she grows on her
back. It all starts when moss grows on her shell or carapace, and it grows
there because she likes her spot next to a waterfall, where it's all misty and
cool. Moss loves misty cool conditions. I named " Scoot" his name because the
plates that make up a turtle's shell are called scutes. I remember when I first
got the idea for " Mossy". My husband and I were sitting on the end of our dock,
in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts, dangling our feet in Goose
Pond. I looked way down into the water and saw some water weeds." Hey, look at
those water weeds, they are in the shape of a giant turtle". Then a few minutes
later," Those turtle shaped weeds are getting bigger, they're coming up to the
surface!" Then, " Wait a minute, that's a turtle!" It was a huge snapping
turtle, and although it wouldn't have hurt us, we took our toes out of the
When I wander the woodland trails around our house, I'll bring my camera
and try to find some interesting turtle habitat, as well as keep a close eye on
our turtle pond. We've had it for two years, building it in anticipation of this
book, but so far no turtles, only frogs. I'm planting wild strawberries in hopes
that will bring some in. We have a lot of wetlands in back and I have a feeling
the turtles are quite happy where they are. Turtle expert, David Carroll wrote
me with the advice to build a good habitat, and the turtles will come. You can't
bring the from another place and plant them in a pond.
I have just been to NYC to see my editor Margaret and art director, Cecilia
with thumb-nails of the book. We are still balancing out the story. The big
change is giving more importance to Scoot who is left behind. I am very excited
about portraying the different collections of the Museum where "Mossy" is taken.
I spent many happy hours at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at the Harvard
Museum. The museum I'm making up for the book is a small old fashioned museum.
The building I've chosen is called Wilder Memorial Hall in Hingham, MA. It's a
fine Victorian building, very characterful. I went to nursery school there and
so did my daughter. I will be taking pictures of Wilder next week.
If you happen to know of any small, old fashioned natural history museums,
please let me know. In the borders I'll show some of my favorite collections
Trilobites, bird's eggs, feathers,
nuts, leaves, arrowheads, rocks and minerals, shells and beetles.
All the excitement I have for "MOSSY" has to be tamped down, and replaced
by my enthusiasm for a new edition of THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. I'm painting a
new jacket for it, and it needs to be finished before I start on the finishes
I hope where you are the outside world is as compelling and fresh is it
here. Maybe with all the creativity unfolding we can feel that energy and put it
into our own creative project. I know I can't compete with mother nature, but
when I draw, it feels like it's a big fan letter to her.
Happy Reading, happy writing, and happy drawing, your Friend,