February Hedge a Gram

Happy February,

I knew last fall when I saw the rainbow over Niagara Falls that I was going to have a big challenge painting the rainbow in On Noah's Ark. A rainbow appears on the last page and that is what I'm working on now. It is very hard to paint because it is light and not an object. The day after tomorrow I'll be sending all the finished pages of my book to New York to my publisher. It's like saying goodbye to a good friend. I feel disappointment about things I didn't say or didn't express, but I also marvel at how the time spent turned into something wonderful and unexpected.

I drew 630 animals and insects for my book. I tried to choose animals, or bugs or birds that I had seen in real life, because often photographs are too one dimensional. Occasionally though there will be a creature I just have to draw because it is so amazing, like the leaf insect. Since the story of Noah's Ark took place long ago, I included some extinct animals like the dodo, a flightless bird that was killed off in 1681, the thylacine, a marsupial tiger-like animal from Australia and Tasmania that was last seen in 1936. Obviously I could not see them in person, I had to use a book.

I will spend the next week fine tuning the text. At the last minute, I took out a page from the beginning and put it at the end. I wanted to show the beginning of my main character, Noah's granddaughter's life in her new world after the animals from the ark wander off.

One of the difficulties in drawing the animals of the world it that their beauty and character are so awesome that it's daunting. When I feel overwhelmed, I look at or remember the drawings that kids show me when I'm on the book tour. I am equally amazed at how their hedgehogs (lots of kids draw hedgehogs for me to see) all look different. They look in a way that expresses something human and creative. It's that thought that keeps me going.

Lastly, as a special message to all of you in the armed forces or those of you with a family member that is in the service, thank you for your commitment to our country's freedom and way of life. As an American and mother of a Marine, I am grateful and proud!

Bye for now,

Your friend,

Jan Brett