Happy November!

       This is my November Hedge a gram - a monthly journal entry that focuses on my work - children's book illustrator and author.  My goal is to encourage and prepare young people to consider children's book illustration as a job.  It is really a life style, but a challenging and interesting one.  This last month, I've halted my work on my current project, GINGERBREAD FRIENDS, to promote my just published book, THE THREE SNOW BEARS.  I've just come back from a two and one half week, twenty three city book tour, and several weeks of press interviews.  It is curious to me that one of the reasons I became an illustrator was that I didn't communicate well in other ways.  I always needed more time to think about answers to questions or to access social situations.  Drawing gave me a relaxed atmosphere and time to puzzle things out.  Now I go to booksignings where I have to describe my book making undertaking in twenty minutes, and then greet a line of book buyers, to whom I'm indebted!  Surprisingly, I like explaining the twists and turns of the creative process.  When I meet children, especially ones that like to draw, or teachers who care deeply about teaching their students to read and love books, it is exhilarating.
     On my trip I went to a school in Filmore, California.  As the children filed into the auditorium where I was speaking, their eyes shown with interest and speculation.  Every child looked like a parent had dressed them with love - sleek ponytails with bows, the latest style headbands and for the boys, shirts emblazoned with the kind of graphics that would make young boys hearts race - tractors, explosions and wild animals.  They all stopped to give Hedgie, our human sized hedgehog character a hug or a pat, overflowing with natural friendship.  The principal, teachers, and librarian at that school were all caught up in the magic of teaching the children and I felt so excited to be part of it, even if it was only for a morning.   During my book tour, I met so many talented young people. Having been a child once myself, I know I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg, as most kids are very shy about their ideas and talents.
     Now that I'm home, I will be digging into my almost finished book, and tuning out the rest of the world.  When I'm feeling lazy, or uninspired or discouraged after making a drawing mistake, I'll think back at the nice things people said at my booksignings and I will be very grateful.
     Bye for now, your friend,

                                Jan Brett