Successful children’s book author Jan Brett comes to El Dorado Hills this Thursday to promote her newest book, “Mossy.”
Brett has written more than 30 books, including “The Mitten.” Aboard her artwork-wrapped rockstar bus, Brett is on a 23-city national tour to promote “Mossy” and will stop at Lakehills Covenant Church, 7000 Rossmoore Lane in El Dorado Hills, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 18. The event is hosted by Face in a Book and will include a drawing demonstration and book signing.
Brett, 62, has more than 38 million books in print and it’s her detailed, beautiful portraiture of animals, birds, flowers, rocks and insects that captures the heart as much as the stories she writes. Each page is decorated with a border of flora and fauna as well as pictures that illustrate the story itself.
Brett calls on her love of nature, travel and lengthy visits at her summer cabin in the Berkshire Hills for inspiration for her artwork. It takes her an hour to paint each square inch of her books, but those are the hours Brett said she loves.
Even as a kindergartener, Brett knew she wanted to be a children’s book illustrator.
“When I grew up, editors would tell me they liked my illustrations, but I should try to write the story myself. I didn’t know that editors would help you do that,” she said.
In the early years of her books, illustrations were always black and white with an occasional color page, said Brett. “But with the technology that has developed, every page can be in full color.”
“Mossy” is a blaze of color, gorgeous illustrations and a wonderful story about an Eastern box turtle who carries a whole flower garden on her back.
She is happy at Lilypad Pond, but a biologist finds her and puts her on display in a museum, far away from the pond and her friend Scoot, a fellow turtle. Mossy is a very popular exhibit, but she pines for home and eventually she is returned to Lilypad Pond and Scoot.
Brett is currently working on her newest book, “Cinders,” about a chicken Cinderella in Russia.
“I’m about halfway through. I love stories and storytelling, but it’s the pictures that get me up in the morning. I can’t wait to get to work and I often stay up late at night working because it’s so fun to color everything in and see it come alive,” said Brett.
“I have a little movie in my head and its a challenge when something interrupts it — sometimes it is hard to get back into it. I’m not going to have wicked step sisters in this story — I’m a step mother, myself — so I’ll just have mean chickens,” she said.
She and her husband, a bassist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, are looking forward to the bus tour.
“We found that going by bus instead of a plane allowed us to bring all kinds of things for the book signings and we could meander around and go to places not close to a big hub,” Brett said.
This year’s bus sports a huge illustration of Mossy the turtle walking on a path of red toadstools.
At the book signings, one of Brett’s favorite things is the drawing demonstration she gives.
“I want to show children that they can do this, too,” said Brett.”Everyone gets something at the book signing. I have thousands of signed book plates and I give them to the children and we have posters and all kinds of things. I’m always so excited to show the children how I draw and to meet children who want to be writers or illustrators or love to read.”
Another fun part of the book signing in El Dorado Hills will be the presence of a turtle society, whose members will bring live turtles to visit with the children. In addition, part of the proceeds from the sale of the books will be donated by Face in a Book for turtle rescue.
“Mossy” by Jan Brett, published 2012 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, hardcover picture book, 32 pages, ages 3-5., went on sale in September. The book may be pre-ordered from Face in a Book, 4359 Town Center Blvd., El Dorado Hills. Brett’s books will be available for purchase at the event.