Happy March,
     I have returned from the new offices of Penguin Random House, my long-time, publisher after delivering the final pages of artwork for THE TALE OF THE TIGER SLIPPERS. My husband Joe, my editor Susan and art director, Marikka all had a celebratory lunch when we discussed the publication date, decided by the publisher, when my book tour on the bus would be (starting the day after Thanksgiving) and thoughts about how to share the fun and creative spirits with readers. As so many books do, my retelling of the tale about slippers that keep returning to their owner evolved and turned into a loving story of mother and son, and dramatically ending with the happy relationship of father and son. The last page illustrates, Father Tiger, who is elegant and dignified in the garb of Mughal, India 'piggybacking his exuberant tiger cub toward future adventures. This image came to me from long ago when my own father would give my little daughter a perch on his shoulders at football games and especially our town's wonderful Fourth of July parade. Someone snapped a photo of them, and the image remains very loving and hopeful to this day. I have dedicated the book to my husband's son Sean's little boy Isaac. Both father and son have red hair, just the color of the tigers we saw in India!  Isaac?s mom, Catherine is a Doctor of Psychology and she liked the story especially because there is a little bit of a life lesson in the story, that our lives are marked with experiences that we can acknowledge, but if need be, we can put them in a special place as we live on. Of course, in my playful and colorful story for children, the fable can be enjoyed as fanciful adventure out of a fairy tale starring parasol carrying monkeys, speaking peacocks (the National bird of India) and an old fashioned version of ?air mail" that I hope children will find funny,

       Because I am not a scholar of Mughal India, a period that stretched from the 1500?s until the 1800?s, my editor and art director asked scholars from the academic world to look over the text and art. I did change several images thanks to their advice. It was mentioned that only royals wear feathers in their turbans and I had to repaint the feathers I had put on the father tiger's turban with much reluctance. I love the beauty of feathers and I have gorgeous feathers that I have collected, and I eagerly have waited for a book where I could paint them. Especially beautiful are the pheasant feathers that come from the pheasants and similar colorful ground birds that live in and nearby India. One of the reasons I was drawn to the Persian and Indian miniatures and court paintings were the graceful birds and animals strolling through the albums.  At the end of every book I choose a design for the endpapers, the decorative papers that hold the pages, or signatures to the cover. In my book MOSSY I painted different kinds of moss, in HOME FOR CHRISTMAS I painted boughs, of a troll decorated Christmas tree, and so on.   Now I will have the chance to paint feathers for the border, maybe with a jewel thrown in!  Jewels in those times were greatly prized,

      I write these Hedge grams each month to give a little insight into the creative process of making a children's picture book. One experience that I rarely have heard talked about is the odd juxtaposition of the excitement of finishing after a year of work, in contrast to the profound sadness of leaving this world I created.  I will always have the book but what I don t have is the ability to change or make better my efforts, It is a poignant time, I am fortunate to be excited about my next book COZY. It is about an Alaskan Muskox and his new arctic friends. I am planning a third trip to anchorage and Fairbanks in May to see our adopted Muskox girl, Teal and all her relatives.

   Happy Creating and reading, your friend Jan