Happy October,

      This is Jan Brett and this is my October hedge a gram.  My hedge a grams are updates of my life as an illustrator.  One of my favorite animals in the hedgehog, so that's why I call my messages to you, hedge a grams.
     I am just about to take all my finished paintings to New York so I can look at them with my editor Margaret and the art director at Penguin Putnam, Cecilia.  We talked about the book when it was a dummy, the simple cartoon like mock up of the picture book I do that serves as a sketch.  Every morning when I wake up, I worry that I'll be done in time, and my story about Hedgie in outer space has taken off.  I feel very close to it, and sometimes it's so familiar I'm afraid I'll miss something.   I look forward to having fresh eyes look at my book, but I am always hopeful that they will like it.  It's interesting how at the end, a small change here or there can clarify my meaning or set the tone.   As I say this I'm thinking of all of you writing stories or creating your own books.  It's fun but it's also hard work.
     Before my meeting at the publisher, I have one job I've saved for last.  In my story, Hedgie becomes an astronaut when he's the only one at the science lab that can fit into the tiny rocket.  The science lab I've drawn in the book has blackboards so the scientist can demonstrate their theories.  All year I've been staring at those green gray surfaces and now it's time to fill them with diagrams and equations.
    Our son Sean works at a real lab that creates state of the art technology.   At his lab, scientists make all sorts of parts for rockets, they experiment with lasers and they even create tiny nano-robots.  He has sent me some interesting equations to put on the blackboards.  Sean put a surprise in his package to me.  He sent me ten different stickers like the ones in his real lab.  They warn the scientists about important chemicals and machines that they have to treat with caution.   I will be having fun making up my own colorful stickers to put up in my storybook lab.
     My favorite part so far of my hedgehog in space book is creating Hedgie's expressions, first when he realizes he will be going on a mission in space, then when he has to act in a difficult situation, (he's scared!), and finally when he's honored by becoming a real astronaut.  I like to think how many of the really satisfying things we do start out that way, we're excited but a little afraid.
     This month, I'll be on our tour bus traveling all over the country, I'm excited but a little afraid too.  I'll be giving a little talk and doing a drawing at the bookstores I stop at and I want children to enjoy it.  My goal is that not only that children will like my book, Honey...Honey...Lion!, but they will go home and do drawings of their own.  Drawing the animals and birds we saw in Africa was exhilarating.  Every night on the bus, after my signing, I'll do a black and white line drawing of one of the African creatures we saw, and I'll put it up on the website for kids to color and learn about.  They can be downloaded to create an African Safari mural for your room or class.  If you want, you can email me your favorite African creature and I'll try to include it.  All the animals will live in the Okavango Delta, so I'll add snippets of scenery too.
    Hope to see you at one of my book signings!

                  Good luck and happy reading, your friend,

                                  Jan Brett