A famous children’s author and illustrator is about to wrap up her Midwestern tour after a few stops in Iowa to talk about her latest book and to hear from kids about what sparks their interest.
When she was a child, Jan Brett says she decided to be an illustrator and only started writing children’s books at the prompting of an editor, who suggested she create the tales to go along with her drawings.
“That just opened a door in my mind,” Brett says. “I thought, ‘I can do that,’ because I love to tell stories. So, I would do a story that went with the pictures in my head and I just feel very fulfilled by that now that it’s my job.”
Brett has since written and illustrated more than 30 books and her latest is called “The Turnip,” the retelling of an age-old Russian story. She has more than 39 million books in print. Brett says she makes it a point to talk with kids wherever she goes, saying, they inspire her.
“When you grow up, you lose that like, jumping out of bed on Saturday morning at 5 o’clock and you’re shaking your parents and saying, ‘Can I go outside?’ and I’m going, ‘After breakfast,’ ‘Well, when are we going to have breakfast?’ ‘Well, I just want to sleep a little bit longer,'” Brett says. “You just want to go outside and explore, you can’t wait to get out of bed. You just can’t wait to see how the day is going to unfold.”
Brett says she got the idea for her latest book from a reader who gave her a wooden toy from Russia. Brett hopes her books help to inspire children to find their own muses.
“Time doesn’t cost anything and they can spend an hour drawing with a just pencil and paper and they will be so incredibly amazed at what happens when you let your mind go and start a drawing,” Brett says. “It’s just something we’re given as human beings, that little spark of creativity.”
Brett lives in a seacoast town in Massachusetts, close to where she grew up, and is traveling the country in a bus that’s a rolling billboard. Her stops this week include: Davenport, Waverly and the Omaha area.
By Brent Martin