December Hedge a gram

     It's December - the month we think of spending time with families and loved ones. For me, it's the time I finish my year's work, so it's a bittersweet time. Each book I think is going to be my best, especially when I'm conceiving and planning the art. I try my hardest but I always want it to be better than ever. When I'm putting the final touches on the last pages of each new book in December, I know it's now or never. I'm saving one of my pet ideas for last. Do you know what end papers are? In my past books, they've been solid sheets of colored paper that hold the folded and gathered pages onto the cover of the book. In the book I'm working on now, Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve, I decided to do something different. The night sky plays a big part in the borders of my book. You can tell what's to come by looking at the shapes formed in the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights, and by playing dot to dot with the stars. I thought I would paint a map of the heavens for the endpapers, with my own made up characters in the constellations. For thousand of years people have looked up to the sky and imagined mythological people and animals. One such constellation is the Big Dipper or the Great Bear. You might also know the constellation Orion. I hope nobody minds a heavenly hedgehog, because that's what I've got planned.
     Thank you all for coming to my booksignings, and especially for giving me ideas for animals to highlight in my upcoming book about Noah's Ark. I loved hearing about all of your pets and your artwork. I met some very talented kids. I also learned a lot. I found out about the Catahoola Leopard Cur. It's the state dog of Louisiana. I didn't see one though. My most surprising conversation took place in Fairhope, Alabama. A boy told me he had an alligator in his back yard. It was happy to stay in a swampy ditch, but his mom hoped it would go home to the big swamp. This got me thinking about the Noah's Ark book. Did the animals decide to be peaceful because Noah would throw them overboard if they tried to hurt one another? Perhaps the animals made a truce because only by getting along with each other could each save themselves. Or maybe Noah kept the fiercest animals off by themselves. It also might have been that the rock, rock, rocking of the ark lulled them to sleep, and they napped for forty days!
     Please have fun finding gifts for friends and family for your winter Holidays. Don't forget how much fun it is to make something really special yourself. If you need any ideas, please look on the Secret Santa part of my website. All the ideas and artwork there are yours to create with.
     Before I go, I want to explain about my new books. Daisy Comes Home will be published in late February. I went to China with my daughter-in-law Yun Li for the research. It's working title was Happy Hens, but now we've decided to call it Daisy Comes Home. Next fall the book I'm working on now, Who's that Knocking on Christmas Eve? will be finished. Now, I'm about to start on Noah's Ark for the fall of 2003. Joe and I will be going to Botswana in Africa for the animal research! Finally, the year after that 2004, I'm planning a rain forest setting for The Mitten called The Great Green Umbrella. As you can tell, I love my work.

Bye for now,

Your friend,

Jan Brett