April Hedge a Gram

 Happy April!

      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 water.
      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 for MOSSY.
      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,

                                                              Jan Brett