Happy October!

I'd like to tell you all about the children's book I've been working on. It is called the Animal's Santa, and it tells the story of a snowshoe rabbit that is very sceptical about Santa. His older brother knows that the forest animals are receiving presents on Christmas morning, and he wants his little brother to join in the fun of Christmas. He is pretty sure that Santa is leaving the presents, but he just doesn't have any proof. My story is how he traps Santa.
I set my story in North America, in the north of Canada, because it seemed possible that the animal's story could take place there. The animals that live in the North woods are somewhat reclusive and mysterious. There is an Artic Fox vixen, Raven twins, a Porcupine and the Snowshoe Hare brothers. A Polar Bear, Moose and Badger also make appearances when the animals describe who they think Santa might be.
I've worked on my book for many months now, and its beginning to have a momentum of its own. I start with a dummy, or cartoon version that is 32 pages, the same length as the book will be, so I can refer to it, but I always wait for that moment when the story starts rolling along. The sketches serve as a road map, but I try not to let them get in the way of new ideas that crop up.
When I lived in Boston as an art student and a young mother, I spent many days at the Peabody Museum at Harvard. My young daughter and I spent hours looking at the taxidermied animal specimens that had been collected from all over the world. The museum also has an extensive collection of Native American arts and crafts, and it cast a spell on me. I was very intrigued with the porcupine quill work. One of the reasons I set my book in North America was so I could paint quill work in the borders. I didn't copy any of the quill work from the museum, but tried to imagine the forest family in my book as an undiscovered native people, with their own esthetic. Most of the materials I used are typical of the materials used by First Peoples.
Today I'll be working on my book's jacket. My editor and I have been giving a lot of thought on what the title should be. We both love "Who is the Animal's Santa?" But it takes up a lot of room on the jacket, and restricts the art. The publisher is afraid there will be confusion about the title, and people won't remember the title. So right now the title is "The Animal's Santa" I show the question being asked in the body language of the main character, "Little Snow".
I just received my authors copies of "Cinders", about three weeks before the publisher’s release. I am just thrilled with the way it is presented. It is a wintery fairy tale, and there are subtle sparkles on the jacket, and on the display type. Marikka, a very talented designer at G.P.Putnam's Sons (Penguin) created an extraordinary jacket. Not wanting "Cinders" to look like one of the more commercial offerings, she added copper foil to embellish my name, which is a bold choice when paired with the ombre pink and white lettering of the display type. The effect is very nuanced and ethereal, and represents the kind of subtlety that children can appreciate when they are exposed to it. As electronic games and movies become more available, children's books are becoming more defined. They seem to have the potential to fully realize the human imagination in a very personal and intimate way.
I am looking out my window into a beautiful early fall landscape, but even more real to me at this moment, is the winter palace peopled by gorgeous poultry in their finery, and my north woods tribe of animals, in their snowy woods. Maybe now is the time for you to realize a complex world of your own making. It's an exercise puzzle in creativity and discovery that leads to unexpected places.

Happy Creating,

Jan Brett