April 2001 Hedge a Gram

Hello, April!

     This is my April hedge a gram, the time I take to let children, teachers, and parents know what I'm working on. You're invited! I'm going to be part of a very special Country Fair day at Thayer Academy in Braintree, Massachusetts. All of the details are on my Home Page. They'll be a book talk, pony rides, cotton candy, country fair games, hay rides, photos with Hedgie, and a special prize for everyone who wears denim to the Country Fair. Everyone who wears denim will receive a free golden dollar coin! I'm giving a book talk about how I got the idea for Hedgie's Surprise and then read the story to slides telling tidbits about each page. I'll show everyone how to draw a hedgehog. If you ever wanted an inside view on creating a children's book I hope that you'll buy a ticket. They'll be a raffle with many prizes included original artwork and a school visit. I'm looking forward to visiting the winning school.
     I'm just back from several booksigning on the East coast where I meet many boys and girls who are very talented. I spend about a month in bookstores signing my books and I enjoy meeting people. Although I meet with Margaret my editor and Cecilia the art director, I spend most of my time in my art studio so it's great fun to be out visiting with everyone.
     When I was school age I enjoyed spending hours drawing. I often felt that what I envisioned was better than what I could actually draw. But this wasn't a negative because it forced me to try different methods to improve my work. My parents let me have lots of art supplies, they also let me have lots of time to draw and create. Today having time to tinker with drawings or to start over and try again is valuable. I'm working on the dummy for Knockety, Knock, It's Christmas Eve. It's the book we went to Norway to get ideas for. Because the dummy is a simple cartoon style version of my book, I can experiment and change things around. Some things are technical, like the trim size or dimensions of my book (I'm making it wider). I attend to artistic things too, like the level of likableness versus how authentic the trolls look. It's hard to get right. Trolls have to be intimidating enough so the people run away from them, but not scary enough to cause bad dreams! I feel like I have a movie of the whole book inside my head, only I can't totally remember it until it's drawn out and colored in on paper.
     After two years of drawing my pet hen and hedgehog for other books, now I'm gearing up my imagination for trolls and polar bears. I made a special trip to the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago to see their Polar Bear, so I have photographs and my memory to help me. The trolls are just evolving, piece by piece, nose by tail. So here's my April challenge, draw a picture of a mythical creature, it could be a dragon, fairy, or something you make up. And then, introduce it to an earth creature, a story may soon follow because your picture will cause you to ask questions and the way you arrange the answers will suggest a story of your own.

Bye for now, happy drawing.

Your friend,

Jan Brett