Happy July,

     This is Jan Brett, and this is my July Hedge a gram.   Every year I illustrate a children's book.  As the months go by, I tell what stage the book is in, and add in the various projects I'm working on that boost the book along.  You'll see some months, I'm working on two books, which adds to the fun!
     My art room if filled with books about the Arctic, Inuit people, and Inuit art.  There are photographs strewn everywhere along with a DVD player where I can watch the Fast Runner, a movie made by the Inuit.  I love hearing the sound track because the Inuktitut language casts a spell on the listener.  I especially like the songs that have a hypnotic effect.  Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to be on the land walking all day and singing a song like that.
     When I learn about the Inuit people, it helps me make decisions about my illustrations for the three bears.  Much of my story takes place in an igloo.  It's a magical igloo because three bears live in it, who walk on their hind legs, eat food like people, and wear skin parkas.  Baffin Island, where I visited is far north of the tree line so wood was quite rare.  There is a tree called a dwarf willow that is only inches high.  It grows sideways along the ground.  Snow is the material that the igloo is made from.  It stops wind and keeps the people inside warm when their oil lamp called a quillig is lit.  It is not a wood house.
     I was fortunate to go to a town famous for its people's art called  Pangnirtung.  Some people call it Pang for short.  I saw images of animals wearing parkas, which are winter coats, and boots called kamiks.   When I saw animals in people's clothes, I felt a door had opened.  I could tell the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story as if it took place in the North.
     When I was in Iqaluit, I visited an elementary school.  A thoughtful teacher gave me a book of mammals, on plants of Baffin Island and a book of birds.  When I draw let's say a bowl used for soup, that has a bird on it, I would use the bird book and select a bird from it.  Even though the polar bears travel long distances, they stay in regions near the Arctic circle, so they would not have images of robins or woodpeckers!  The three birds I saw on our springtime visit to the Arctic were, gull, raven, and ptarmigan, a small white pudgy bird with feathered feet.
     I saw many intelligent proud faces at the Iqaluit school.  I combined then to create my curious Inuit girl.  I like the old fashioned hair styles on young girls, but they might look severe on my character.  My editor and my art director are very sure about this.  I decided to give her ponytails.  I don't have to worry about the three bear's hair styles!  Their coats have a slightly yellowish look against the blue white snow.  The polar bear and the walrus are never joked about because they are so fierce and powerful.
    You can see I am building the world my book takes place in, piece by piece.  Sometimes I am surprised at the way the story unfolds.  Because the book takes a year to create, I have time to make mistakes and change things back and forth.  The deadline of the book is my friend and my foe.  It's my friend because if I didn't have it I might toy with the pieces forever.   It's my foe because there might be a combination of ideas I didn't have time to try out.
     I hope this summer you will start a big project and work on it a little at a time.  Make your deadline September and we will work along with a goal, but with time to try out lots of creative ideas.
     Happy drawing.  Bye for now, your friend,

                             Jan Brett