Tuesday, December 29, 2015

That Time I Saw Jan Brett

Folks, what would you do if you knew you could not fail?

I have asked myself this question for at least the past 20 years, and the answer is always the same: Write a young adult book. The tough part is to actually sit down and DO it!  I can talk myself out of anything or so it seems. What if I spend all that time writing it and nobody likes it?  What if there isn't a market for the type of book I write? I think the "what if's" plague most of us at some time or another.

Every week I discuss books with my junior high students, but I feel like their current choices are so limited and SO depressing!  Take a look at the offerings the next time you are in Target or Walmart. They all seem pretty bleak, dark, and intense to me.

I remember being a teenage girl and wanting to read an innocent love story. Boy meets girl, girl likes boy, they go to the school dance and have a great time!  Nobody eventually became a vampire or a werewolf.  Neither one was implanted with a computer chip that tracked all thought and movement. The government wasn't out to get them, reprogram them, or Heaven forbid, destroy them! Nope, just a simple little romance, that was enough for me.  I liked to read a story that made me happy and that would be my goal as a writer as well.

Almost two years ago, I was fortunate enough to "meet" a woman who lives out a similar dream. Although I didn't get to visit with her personally, I did get to listen to her fabulous presentation and it truly inspired me.  This renowned artist, writer, and speaker was none other than Jan Brett.  If you have teach primary grades or have young children at home, I bet you're familiar with some of these beautiful books:

Free online copy of this book and a free activity and printable to accompany it.:

Gingerbread Baby story with a Gingerbread Baby Lapbook and activities, with printable resources.:

Ms. Brett does a beautiful job of telling and illustrating stories, and she was gracious enough to come to our little town to do a presentation and book signing.

Her tour bus was a work of art all on its own! It appears that the artwork is changed every year to promote Jan's newest book.  That year, she was in town to promote Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella.
A close-up of the phenomenal artwork!
She even brought some of her chicken "models" on tour!  I assure you, these aren't like the chickens found on farms around here!
Not only can she draw exquisite, detailed pictures, she can draw them AND talk at the same time. You should ask my students about what happens when I try to talk and write on the board....yikes!
Here she is with the final product.... 
 She gave lots of great advice for artists and writers of all ages.  Jan Brett is truly a class act, and I would love to get the opportunity to see her again.

She was so inspiring, and it was wonderful to see someone living out her dream.


That brings me back to my original question:

What would YOU do if you knew you could not fail?

The New Year is quickly approaching...make it be YOUR year to dream big!