Happy December.

This is a month full of activity for me, but I would still like to be in touch via my hedge a gram so as to give you a picture of what is happening in my life as an author illustrator.
I am on a three week, national, booksigning and talk tour promoting my new book The Turnip, with my husband Joe, my little Rooster, Reuben and his mate, Rilke on a big tour bus. We've been traveling for one week as I write this. It is a morning off so I am working on my current book The Gingerbread Christmas that has a finish date coming up soon. I have brought my art supplies and special lamp and it brings me back to normalcy to do my artwork during the breaks. I am pleased at how this latest Gingerbread Book is unfolding. This may come as a surprise, but even though I have written and illustrated over 35 books, the creating of them is always somewhat precarious. Often I feel like I'm protecting my little creation from outside forces!The biggest challenge is time, which I never seem to have enough of. I love listening to audio books as I work, and currently I'm listening to Edmund de Waal's book, THE WHITE ROAD about his curiosity and passion for porcelain, especially white porcelain. I can relate to his search for purity and human artistry, including his own. It makes me very grateful that my readers and appreciators are children and their teachers and parents, because the human spirit in children is easier to see then in other places, and it embodies hope for the future.
I have met some wonderful young artists on my book tour. They have been bright-eyed and full of creativity. The artists I have met have ranged in age from the very young, to high school students to young illustrators. It is a little frustrating to not have more time with them. I am as always blown away by the dedication and enthusiasm for the teachers and librarians who have been waiting in long lines to get their books signed, sometimes after being in the classroom all day. They love books and know children do too .Helping the children unlock the code of reading will change the childrens lives as they will have access to the world, past and present. I am currently reading a book by Barry Blanchard titled THE CALLING about alpinism, mountain climbing. He grew up with an unbridled passion for the life of a mountaineer, and he found his way through books. His writing about his love for mountains and his climbing partners is unique and amazing. What humans can accomplish is mind blowing! Hardly a page goes by that he doesn't reference a passage from a book about his craft/art that he brings to mind during his epic expeditions and climbs.
I become a little homesick on my book tours. I miss my chickens and I miss running, and I miss my Boston Symphony concerts. Luckily my husband Joe takes leave from his concertizing with the Boston Symphony to be with me and organize the tour. It takes a while for me to sign a book for everyone so we wrack our brains for things we ca do to make the signing a worthwhile experience. Since we have the bus we are able to bring full color posters from my books for the first 100 people in line. They are printed by the publisher and are beautiful! Hedgie the hedgehog a full (human size) character appears for photo opportunities. We have been amazed to see that people have brought their adorable live Hedgies to the signing. Seeing them makes me want to do another Hedgie book! Actually, next in line, tentatively,is a Goldilocks under the Sea story. Goldilocks, if you haven't guessed it already, is a mermaid. The three bears will be represented by Octopuses! Last summer I was having a chat with a friend, the s ymphony conductor Stephane Deneve's daughter Alma about my putting octopuses into the story. The one thing that bothered me was that their bulbous heads look a little like aliens and might give me a creepy feeling. I love that in the original Goldilocks story the bears are equal parts fearsome and adorable! Alma solved the problem by suggesting they wear cool hats. That got me thinking about all the curious and beautiful shells that would make wonderful hats... perhaps with sea anemone flowers?
My birthday fell during the beginning if this tour and we stopped in DC to see my daughter, son in law and grandchildren, Torynn and Brian. We went to The National Museum of Natural History- an extraordinary place where I found a book all about Octopus. This will be great reading when the bus is rolling and it is too bumpy to work.
Being an illustrator is a very isolated profession and it is lovely and inspiring to meet so many young artists and book lovers all through our great USA.

Happy reading and creating,

Jan Brett