Happy August,

     This is Jan Brett, and this is my August Hedge a gram.  Hello all the Leo the Lions out there - three of my closest friends are Leos, my husband, my daughter, and my husband's grandson, who is a good pal of mine.  I am a Sagittarius and we are supposed to get on well with Leos.  I like my sign because it has a horse in it, one of the animals I am most fascinated with, which is why my very first book that I wrote was FRITZ AND THE BEAUTIFUL HORSES.   It's still in print, and you'll see it doesn't have borders.  That's because my editor at the time didn't feel overly decorated books kept a child's interest.  He was afraid of the too flowery look of some greeting cards.  I always like borders because I could spin off smaller stories that would add to my book's theme.  Even now, when I'm reading, I am happy to see any sort of footnote that gives the reader insider information.
     The second book I wrote ANNIE AND THE WILD ANIMALS, does have borders.  When I presented my book idea to that same editor, I said my borders would not just be decorative, they would add to the content of my book.  For me, artwork, imagery and visual flights of fancy speak in a different language.  Everyone who has traveled to a foreign country is surprised to see how different colors make themselves important.  The blinding sunlit white Greek buildings, the green blue of ice and snow in Arctic regions and the rich browns and golds of African wildlife were all colors that knocked me out.  When I visited the island of Martinique in the Caribbean, I couldn't wait to paint the way the multi-colored boats and houses looked against the blue sea and rich green jungle.  I used those colors in my version of THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT.
     Right now, I have been adjusting the color palette in my THREE LITTLE DASSIES book, which is set in Namibia.  The rocks are pink red and the sand is pale gold.  The sky is a very deep blue, and you can see clearly for miles because there is very little moisture in the air.  The local women wear brightly colored dresses which look very pleasing in the landscape, where trees and vegetation are often bleached by the sun.  In the borders of my book, I used stripes of calico fabric that looks distinctively Namibian.
     When I'm not working on my book, I go to Boston Symphony concerts at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts.  My husband plays the double bass in he orchestra, and I buy a seat where I have a good view of him.  I wrote a book about a bear that plays the double bass, BERLIOZ THE BEAR.   Often while listening to music I get ideas for my books.  The ideas seem to pop in as the music transports.  Joe hasn't minded when I turn him into an animal or a bird...so far at least.
     We are planning a trip to Sweden this spring to do the research for next year's book, tentatively called HOME FOR CHRISTMAS.  Although trolls have been cast in the role of the evil subhuman in Scandinavian folklore, the trolls in my book have evolved into characters that are human-like but scruffy and misguided.  It will be instructive to go to Sweden and hear the folklore that surrounds the troll.  I will be looking at the countryside where my troll character will have its adventures - a place where snowy owls, bear otter and reindeer roam.
    Many people have asked me if I'm Norwegian or Swedish perhaps because many of my books are set in the Northern latitudes and have trolls and reindeer as characters.  I'm of English descent but I like to think when the Vikings raided the British Isles hundreds of years ago, that my great, great, great, great, great, great, grandfather may have come from Scandinavia.  I don't know how to explain my fascination with that part of the world.
     Every time I write a hedge a gram I try to think of new ways to encourage you to try writing and/or illustrating a story yourselves.  Each person is a bundle of likes, dislikes, attachments, curiosities and experiences and it makes the creativity that you have such a precious and unique thing.  I hope you will try illustrating a story or even a sequence of events with some drawings, or sketch out a story in words, you'll be glad that you did.  Happy reading!
     Bye for now,

                          Your friend,

                               Jan Brett