Happy May!

     Spring is my favorite time of the year, especially here in New England.    I'm delighted to hear from you.  We've been in and out this past month, and it's great to be home gathering up the mail and just feeling happy that so many people love books.  I hope that you like this month's hedge a gram.  This fall's book THE TURNIP is all finished, and I am happily working on my book for the fall of 2016, GINGERBREAD CHRISTMAS.   I'd love to tell you a bit about it.
    To see our backyard go from nine feet of snow to green grass, wildflowers and returning birds so quickly is very invigorating and inspiring.  Energy seems like it is coming up from the earth, hopefully right to my art desk!
     I have had a constructive and collaborative meeting with my editor in New York where we looked over my book dummy for GINGERBREAD CHRISTMAS.  Several wrinkles were ironed out and the fun begins.  I always look at the plot and writing as necessary obligations for doing the art.  Truth be told sometimes the writing can be very satisfying.
    One of our friends, Elof, took his grandson on a nature trip.  Waiting for wildlife to appear the grandfather told his grandson he must be absolutely quiet and perfectly still.   Axel looked back at him in perfect innocence and in total seriousness and said, "But I can't be still and I can't be quiet."  He was only six.  I remember how difficult it was to be still and quiet when I was little.   There was squirming and fidgeting and humming, but there are times when even those behaviors are not allowed.  I guess that is the line when you become an adult.  Instead of being told to be quiet, you are telling others to be quiet!  However, in GINGERBREAD CHRISTMAS the Gingerbread Baby has to do those things to save himself.  The villagers all want a wonderful live Gingerbread Boy for themselves and the only way he can get away is by pretending to be a Christmas ornament.  I can't wait to paint the giant Christmas tree.  Hopefully it will fold up and be two pages high.    My book is set in Switzerland like my other two gingerbread stories, and I will be in every pastry and bon-bon shop in Europe this fall doing "research".  Luckily I love gingerbread and I'm looking forward to creating the baby and all the instruments.
     I have always loved clocks, and it's not surprising that there is tick-tocking in yet another one of my books.  We have two antique grandfather clocks.  A painted Swedish clock and an elegant French one.  In my studio is a Kit-Kat clock with moving eyes and tail.  I'm hoping on our trip to Europe I can find a beautiful authentic cuckoo clock.  When I get it home, I hope to copy it in Gingerbread, although I don't expect it will actually tell time.  As usual, my book ideas expand into my life until sometimes I don't know where the line is drawn.
    I got more fantastic news from my editor that day in New York.  Margaret liked my idea for a new Goldilocks story.   I have created a traditional GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS and many years later THE THREE SNOW BEARS set in the Arctic with Polar Bears and an Inuit Goldilocks with raven black hair.
   Now I'm ready to go under the sea.  Goldilocks will be a mermaid.  The Three Bears will be Walrus, if I can find an undersea landscape that is rich and beautiful in the far north where they live.  If not there are always Dugong, a relative of our North American Manatee or Sea Lions.  I am going to Okinawa Japan next week where I will snorkel the reefs and see their Dugong at Okinawa's world famous Aquarium.  There are very few places you can see this sea mammal.  I really have my heart set on a Walrus though, because one of my favorite books is ALICE IN WONDERLAND and I am fascinated by the Walrus.  My husband, Joe, has a walrus mustache too, but no tusks!
     Happy reading,