December Hedge a gram

      Hi Everybody!  Happy December!  I'm excited about seeing friends and family this Christmas - especially poignant since my daughter, my son-in-law, and his brother will be shipping out to Iraq with their Marine Corps and Army groups soon after.  It's the first Christmas for our grand-daughter Katie, and you can be sure she'll have lots of children's books.  Since she lives on the mighty Hudson river, I'm giving her a beautifully illustrated book about Rip Van Winkle the man who slept for a hundred years.  I'll also give her a set of my favorite author Beatrix Potter -  those curious thoughtful tales made for a child sized hands.  Our grandsons are getting some paperbacks I found at a Flying J truck stop on the way to Indiana called TRACTOR PULL and MONSTER TRUCKS.  They both like big machines. They really liked HEDGIE BLASTS OFF! because their dad Sean helped me with the formulas shown on the Star Labs' blackboards.
     I want to thank everyone who came to my signing at the Crossroads of America national poultry show in Indianapolis, Indiana.   My signings was sponsored by Kid's Ink Books.  Shirley Mullin donated a hefty chunk of her proceeds along with my royalties to the juniors.  I was so impressed with all the young people who came to show their poultry in the Junior division, Open division and Showmanship division.  They love their birds!  There's nothing cuter than a little child, a fluffy Silkie chicken and a big colorful ribbon!  Joe and I had a great road trip from our home near the seacoast of Massachusetts to Indiana.  We didn't get our binos out in time when I spotted a flock of wild white geese on an over-flooded marsh in upper New York state.  Could they have been Snow Geese?  I'll never know.  I always let one of my show chickens sit up front with me.  They like to look out the window and watch the trucks go by.  One time I had my old rooster Handsome on my shoulder when a vulture passed over.  He called "Hawk!", which is what chickens do when a bird with a big wingspan passes overhead.  It may not exactly be "Hawk!", but the basic sounding of a warning squawk.  My white crested Polish bantams weren't big winners at the poultry show, but I was very proud of them.
    Thank you all who came to my signing in Canton, Massachusetts for The Massachusetts Audubon Society.  I am so impressed with all of the teachers who brought their classes to see my exhibit of artwork and walk the nature trails at the center.  Exploring the natural world is something I like to do often, especially with a guide.
     Since it's December, and my book is due this time of year for publication next fall, I'm spending every minute working on THE THREE SNOW BEARS.  Right this minute my husband Joe is picking up take out Chinese food!  I love when the book finally melds together and takes on a life of its own.  For years, I've been telling some of my artist friends,  "Why don't you paint icebergs, they're so unlike anything.  They are monumental and shaped by the elements."    I finally took my own advice.  Luckily we took the time and expense to fly over the floe edge when we were on Baffin Island last April.  The colors are so other-worldly, or maybe Arctic-worldly is the better word.  The ocean is so pure you can look way down the icebergs into the water and see the shape of it.  The sea ice cracks and crashes into endless patterns.  I also have been painting my favorite breed of dog, the Siberian Husky.    To be technical, the dogs we saw are Greenland Inuit dogs, but they are a close relative.  I've been using photographs of my friend Dr. Lee Cera's dogs doing agility training to help me remember the grace and high jinx of the sled dogs in Iqaluit.  One dog I remember best is Amundson, named after an Arctic explorer.  He had two white spots over his eyes called "takoolik" in Inuit.  It means "four eyes".  The sled dogs look like they're grinning, but I think they're imagining some mischief to get into, and how funny the future chaos will be!
     Icebergs, sled dogs, Inuit words, what a great profession I have, to be able to create, and learn about fantastic compelling worlds I wouldn't know about in my regular life.  Perhaps you would like to do the same.  Practice and use your imagination and "poof" you will create a book of your own that will have taken you on a journey to the unexpected!
     Keep drawing!  Bye for now.

                          Your friend,

                               Jan Brett