September Hedge a gram

Happy September!

     This is my September Hedge a gram.  Every month I stop everything and write a letter telling about what I'm doing as an illustrator.  I am in the middle of painting the pictures for my book for the fall of 2004, The Umbrella.     I wrote the story last winter, then I mapped it out with a series of sketches, and now I'm creating the final drawings.  Actually there's one more step.  The art director and editor at my publisher will look the final artwork over and tell me their reactions.  I was just thinking that too many scenes picture animals in the distance, then I looked in my sketch book and was relieved to see I had planned to show close ups in the next two pages.  I can't wait to start them!
     I just received my newsnotes from the printer.  The "all About" letter as I call it, tells about the book being published this month, On Noah's Ark.  In the letter I describe why I chose the story of Noah's Ark to illustrate, and how I tried to make it unique.  I did a big drawing of all the animals we saw in Botswana, Africa.  It took about three days to draw them all.  I looked through my guide book, where I had circled all the animals and birds we saw.  I only wish I could send a tape recording too, because the animals sounds we heard outside the tent canvas were very loud, very weird, and non-stop from first light at 4:30 until the sun came up.  A sound like a train, really deep and rumbling, was a male lion.  A sound like a saw, was a leopard.  A noise like a dog barking was a baboon.  The hyenas didn't laugh, they made a woop, woop call.  When the sun rose, the francolins, a chicken-like bird, shrieked and squabbled and the doves would call, over and over.  The animal symphony was one of the most beautiful things about Africa.
     When readers write me with questions, I'm glad I have the newsnote letters from my different books to give answers, especially since I can do little drawings to help clarify.  I would guess almost every question I've ever been asked has been answered in my newsnotes.  I've taken that Botswana animal page and made it into a game on the Internet.   The prize is a special hip, hip, hooray, hippo coloring page that's given only when you name all of the animals.   You can find the new game listed in the Games section of my Activities Pages.
     I went to Africa in order to see many varieties of animals and birds in the wild.  It really helped the book, and now I feel I have a special bond with Africa.  The people there were friendly and welcoming.  Our guides, Ali and July, were knowledgeable about the way the animals interacted.  I'm planning another trip to Botswana because it was so inspiring.
     If you have a chance to look at my new book, On Noah's Ark, see if you can find the painting of a child asleep next to a lion.  We saw a lion exactly in that pose from about six feet away.  Only his brother was next to him.  In real life, he looked like a giant kitty, sleepy and furry.  Very deceptive!  Later in the morning we saw what was left of their dinner from the night before and it sent a chill. When I got home and drew that picture for my book, I thought how lucky we are to have imaginations.  Through our artwork we can make things happen that could never happen in real life.   The next thing will be to send my Hedgie character to a distant planet!
     I hope you find time to use your imagination this month.  You'll come up with something no one has ever thought of.  Good luck!
    Happy drawing!  Bye for now.
                                  Your friend,

                                    Jan Brett