Happy September,

There are times when I am bursting with enthusiasm for my job as a children's book illustrator. I'm feeling especially happy as September begins. The children's book I'm working on, Noah's Ark, is starting to look like a book. The most interesting challenge is taking each animal, looking at all my reference books, and then attempting to pose it on my page. I can magically lift a paw here, drape a furry form there or perch a bird on an antler. I can use my artistic licence to be a little outlandish with animal combinations, especially since my ark contains animals from all of the continents of the world. Where else would you draw a Green Iguana settling in a Giant Panda's lap? I even drew a Dodo, the now extinct bird.

When I reflect on how I spend my days creating the small world of my book with it's own characters and guidelines, I'm struck by how similar a pastime it is to the time I spent drawing as a child, or the wonderful experience of entering a book and getting lost in the story. Have you ever been so involved with your book that someone can call you and you don't even hear?

As my Noah's Ark book is taking shape I am just receiving my first shipment of Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve? my new book for this fall. To be truthful, when I first look at it, I'm worried that I'll see a mistake or wish I had worked harder on a face or something. I mention this so if you ever have these feelings when you look at your artwork and feel a little let down, you'd know you're not alone.

Mostly, those negative thoughts pass and pride takes it's place. I read once that the weavers of ornate Oriental carpets intentionally make an imperfection, as if to say, "Our Maker is perfect, we humans are allowed to make mistakes."

All in all, I think the time I spend being creative is very valuable to me. I hope you'll take some time to draw or write something this September that you can be truly proud of.

In the meantime, I'm happily up to my ears in Hippos, Hyenas, and Grey Crowned Cranes. Bye for now,

Your friend,

Jan Brett