Happy November,
      I would like to thank everybody who came to see me at my booksignings this past month.  When I speak for that half hour before the signing, my goal is to encourage you to use your own creativity.  I like to describe how I got the idea for my book in hopes you will follow me down the same path.  I appreciate it when you ask me questions and I thought for my November hedge a gram I'd answer some of the questions you asked me on tour.
     Which is my favorite book?   This is probably the question I'm asked the most.  It is always the book I'm working on.  The book feels like a living thing that I can change, and that can change me.  Once my book is published, I've ended my creative input, and I'm ready to go on to the next book.
     Will I write chapter books?  No, I will stick with picture books because the artwork is the main way I communicate.  Drawing comes naturally to me, and all my life I've tried to get better. Writing is much harder and I love to read, which is a good way to admire other people's writing.
     What was my first book?  The first book I wrote and illustrated was Fritz and the Beautiful Horses.  I was following some very useful advice which was, write about what you know.  I have always loved horses and my daughter's riding lessons gave me a good idea for a book.  I wanted to put borders in my book, but my editor discouraged me, saying, kid's aren't interested in too much decoration.  My next book, Annie and the Wild Animals had borders, but they told a story.  This time my editor liked the idea.  Many people at my booksignings have a request for their favorite animal or country to be in a book.  Writing a story with a compelling plot with a surprise ending isn't easy for me.  I figure out the plot first and the character and setting often follows, working with the story line.
     What am I working on now?  All of you that go to this website know that Hedgie is going to outer space in my next book.  I work a year ahead as do all picture book author/illustrators.  After my space book, I may illustrate an Arctic version of The Three Bears with a raven haired Inuit child and three polar bears.  I am researching a good place to go and experience Inuit culture.  I would like to go to Greenland, or to Canada.
     Teachers ask if I have advice for kids concerning their creative work.  My answer is time.  It's both easy and difficult.  Every one has time, but it's difficult to plan it well!  I would say, make time to have fun drawing.  Ask for art materials for your birthday or spend some of you allowance for them.  A good  bet would be a set of colored pencils with lots of different shades, and an electric pencil sharpener.  Watercolors are very difficult to work with and I wouldn't recommend them unless you really feel they express your art.  You can be spontaneous with colored pencils, and get lots of detail with a sharp point which can be gotten from the electric pencil sharpener.
     Turn off the TV and close your door.  You will want to listen to the voice inside you that speaks to you in a way that can't be duplicated by anyone else in the world.
                  Happy drawing, your friend,
                                  Jan Brett