January Hedge a Gram

Happy New Year,

My recipe for your Holiday,

love, hope, peace on earth,

glad tiding and all good things

for the year 2000.

When New Years comes I always feel like I have a fresh beginning. This year, especially so because the artwork for my fall 2000 book, Hedgie's Surprise, is done, and I'll be flying to Guilin China to get ideas for my new book. the new book doesn't have a title yet. It's about a little girl who has her own business selling eggs and what happens to her littlest hen. When I go to China I'll need to find out what variety of chickens live in Guilin and what a small family farm would look like. In my mind I can see a market scene and having been to China once before, I know that food markets are eye-popping in the variety of beautiful and amazing fruits, vegetables and sea creatures. I have a whole "shopping list" of things I want to se first hand. And believe it or not, I want to touch and smell everything, even though I cant' draw senses,. when I show my characters I imagine the setting they're in and their body language will show their reactions to the world around them.

The landscapes around Guilin are very famous - there are limestone mountains that look like dragon's teeth, and the Li river flows through them. Maybe I will see a little girl that will want to be in my book. I'll bring one of my own books in case it's difficult to describe what I do. I'm very fortunate that my daughter-in-law is coming with me on the trip. Not only can she speak Chinese - but she is so warm and friendly that everyone wants to talk to her.

As I speak about my next book, I'm hoping you have a similar plan. Not everyone wants to be an illustrator, but there's something about planning an art project - whether it's dance, music or writing, that give so much satisfaction. I'm always stunned at the freshness and strength of young people's ideas. I hope whatever your age, you enjoy some creative play.

All the best this year!