Happy May,

     This is Jan Brett, and this is my May Hedge a gram, the time I take each month to let you know what I'm doing in my role as an author and illustrator.  I decided to write my hedge a grams about then years ago, because so many children and adults wanted to know what it was like.  I will try to describe the creative process I follow on each book, hoping that you will follow along - making up your own stories and books in your own voice.
     I create a new picture book every year.  I am happy with the form of a picture book because illustrations take up most of the book.  I see myself primarily as an artist, and it's what I have aspired to since kindergarten.  Currently I work with one publisher for creating new books, Penguin Putnam.  Scholastic also publishes many books of mine.  My editor, the person who helps me with the writing, and initially decides if my story will work "in their list" is from Penguin Putnam and has served as the editor for many, many wonderful children's books.  I have great respect for her talent and that is a most important factor in creating a successful book.
     I have written a manuscript for my new book, the working title is, THE EASTER EGG.   After four or five run throughs with my editor, Margaret, we decided on the size of the book and a type face.  The manuscript was then printed in that typeface and sent to me so I could make a dummy.  A picture book is almost always 32 pages and my dummy will be that length.  It will look like a slightly smaller version of the future book.    I will make the paintings more like sketches, waiting to decide on some details when I go to finish.  Today I have finished the dummy and sent it to Margaret to look at.  Of course I kept color copies!    It almost took a month to complete!
   In the meantime, I am making my newsnotes letter for this coming fall's book, GINGERBREAD FRIENDS.  It's meant to tell tidbits about the book and offer art advice.  This time I will show photos of my rooster who is a character in the book.  I'm wondering if readers will think my book rooster is a figment of my imagination, because he doesn't look like a barnyard rooster.  He's very fluffy on top of his head.   Many of my books have animals I have known in them, and people too.  If you are looking for ideas you might find a book character almost anywhere.
    I'm also painting a giant poster for the National Book Festival.  It will have everyone one of our 50 state's animals or birds carrying, reading, or displaying a book.
     I have always been a bookworm, and ever since my best friend Marla Menzies and I rode our bikes to the Hingham Public Library for our weekly sampling of books, I have managed to always have a book within reach.  I may have already read a book written by one of my hedge a gram readers and I hope next time it will be a book written by you!
     Your friend, reading and illustrating,

                         Jan Brett