April Hedge a gram

Happy April!

     I hope you are as excited and energized by the arrival of spring as I am!  I write this letter every month to let all of you future illustrators know how the progress of my book is going.  I write or retell and illustrate a children's picture book every year, and I've fallen into a certain rhythm since the book is due at the publisher in early December.  You'll see that creating a picture book is not the whole story.  I promote my new book by going on a book tour in October for three weeks.  During the year, I spend time away from my art desk visiting the school that won our yearly contest and visiting my sister Sophie's sixth grade class.
      Usually I spend two weeks on a research trip.  This year the book I've written is called Gingerbread Friends.  I don't feel I need to go to any special country to get ideas.  Surprisingly for me, I have gotten a jolt of inspiration from The Lord of the Rings DVD.  It's the version that describes the dedication of the author of the book, J. R. Tolkien to his fantasy world and then how the movies were created, thanks to two amazingly talented artists and many, many artist technicians.  I share with those people an excitement about visualizing another world.  Their's is populated by a mythological world of elves, wizards, dwarfs and hobbits, mine will be full of cookie people.  The first gingerbread story I told, a retelling of the well known Gingerbread Boy which I called The Gingerbread Baby is set in Switzerland.  The book I'm working on now for the fall of 2008 will continue the story, but I would like to expand the setting and make it more characterful and unusual.
     When I finish, I'd like to think, couldn't I really go there?  That's the mark of a really successful project,  the setting seems like a real place in our mind, and the characters are almost like people we know in this world, we're just not with them at the moment.
     Before I start on my book dummy which I will complete later this month, I'll work on my "All About" letter for this fall's book which you have heard me talk about all last year.  It's called The Three Snow Bears and it is the Goldilocks story retold in the Arctic with an Inuit girl as Goldilocks, and three polar bears playing the three bears whose house she explores.  The house is an igloo in my book.  In the "All About" letter, I write about things that I learned researching the book.  I'd like to show a map of Nunavut, the Canadian province and Iqualuit and Pangnirtung two places we visited.  Describing the Arctic clothing will be very meaningful because there is a lot of history and ingenuity behind it.  I will also tell about our experience at the Brookfield Zoo where my husband and I were close enough to touch a young male Polar Bear.  He was anesthetize for a medical check-up.
      When I write my "All About" letter and my Hedge a gram, my dearest hope is that you will be stimulated and inspired to work on your own creative project just as I am today after looking at the documentary diary of the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings DVD.  My mind reels at the thought of so much creativity and the world's yet to be discovered in our minds.
       Bye for now, your friend in the arts.

                     Jan Brett