Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jan Brett Magic

Author-Illustrator Jan Brett's magic began in the parking lot, where her enormous bus proclaimed the stops on her Gingerbread Friends tour. Inside the store stood a large backdrop with a scene from the story. Eager fans of all ages fell under her spell.

Brett told the story and showed the book, adding details only she would know. Ever wonder why she makes her famous borders on the pages of her books? Because she has too many ideas to fit into one book. The extra ideas go into the borders.

The chicken pulling a sleigh idea came from Brett's seeing a real chicken pull a small wagon. She used her own rooster as a model for the book. She baked her own gingerbread boys as models for Gingerbread Baby, posing the out-of-the-oven cookies before they hardened on the pan. She used them to see what Gingerbread Baby would really look like if he were running or jumping. Brett kept her gingerbread boys in a basket on the floor and one day noticed there weren't as many as before. When she took the gingerbread boys out of the basket, she discovered a hole in the basket and a mouse who had been enjoying her baked treats! The basket is in an illustration in the book.

Brett said she knew she wanted to be a children's book illustrator from the time she was five years old. Now, she gets up in the morning, has breakfast, and then goes to her office where "I color all day." She thinks the job is even more fun than she thought it would be.

Next, she gave an art demonstration, giving tips on how to make Gingerbread Baby look three dimensional. She used markers chosen from her Hedgie the Hedgehog shoulder bag/pencil case. For her books, she uses watercolors and brushes working at the pace of an inch an hour.

Here's her advice to young artists: "Look at your first finger and your thumb. Do you see some lines there?" She went on to explain that these fingerprints are unique to each of us. Similarly, no one can draw or write like anyone else. She encouraged young and old in her audience to find their own styles. And, like magic, she made us believe we could do it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Recycling Rewards

Airlines, credit cards, and stores of all kinds offer rewards for frequent business. Why not recycling? What? Yes, you heard right--recycling!

Few people think of South Dakota as a recycling hot bed, yet our sanitation service is one of several in the country offering rewards for recycling (in addition to the intrinsic reward of being kind to the environment). A September 27 Newsweek story explains, and quotes Bob Novak, owner of Novak Sanitation, our service.

We only recently began to rack up reward points. The company brought us a recycle bin much larger than our garbage bin. Recycle pickup is every two weeks, with garbage pickup every week. Since so much can be recycled (all kinds of paper & cardboard, plastics #1-7, cans of aluminum, tin, and steel, and glass), we have less and less trash.
Eventually, we will earn enough reward points to eat out for free at local restaurants or get free merchandise at local stores. And we can recycle the packaging to earn more points. Sounds as if everyone wins on this deal, including Mother Earth. Why not ask if your sanitation service will do the same?