These are just twelve of Jan Brett’s forty-plus books that she has written and illustrated (Jan Brett’s Book List). I am not reviewing a particular book today because she has so many that are oriented towards the Christmas season and the chill of a winter snow. If you have never looked into one of Jan’s books, I encourage you to spend some time pondering the incredible illustrations. You are in for a treat. The detail of each page is so minute: the characters’ facial expressions, including the animals, the scenery, the costumes, and so much more. There are often sidebars on the pages with little acts of the story going on there. Each page is filled with color, costume, characters, surrounded by the natural world. Plus, Jan Brett tells a story, often a long-known fairy tale or a tale (with a tail) of her own.
Jan and her husband travel around the world. When she does, she absorbs the dress and the colors that the people wear, the natural surroundings, and the art of that area. Then she transfers all of that into her books. The characters wear the dress of a certain people, the natural world is drawn and colored in the way she saw it in one particular area, and the story is set in that scene.
Reading Jan Brett’s books are meant for a one-on-one story time rather than being read to a large group. I was a children’s librarian for a few years and found that I could not use her books well in a group setting. The stories were good, but there is so much to look at and the drawings are so detailed that no one but the reader can see just what is going on all over the pages. You will want to sit in a cozy nook to read this with your child or children. Each page will draw you back for many-a-look to find the delightful details, finding something you missed the last time.
On the page I have linked in the first paragraph above, each book on her list tells where the story is set and that is a great guide to the type of costume and scenery you will find there.
Reading level range of all books: from age 1 to about 8
“With over thirty nine million books in print, Jan Brett is one of the nation’s foremost author illustrators of children’s books. Jan lives in a seacoast town in Massachusetts, close to where she grew up. During the summer her family moves to a home in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts.
“As a child, Jan Brett decided to be an illustrator and spent many hours reading and drawing. She says, ‘I remember the special quiet of rainy days when I felt that I could enter the pages of my beautiful picture books. Now I try to recreate that feeling of believing that the imaginary place I’m drawing really exists. The detail in my work helps to convince me, and I hope others as well, that such places might be real.’
“As a student at the Boston Museum School, she spent hours in the Museum of Fine Arts. ‘It was overwhelming to see the room-size landscapes and towering stone sculptures, and then moments later to refocus on delicately embroidered kimonos and ancient porcelain,’ she says.
“Travel is also a constant inspiration. Together with her husband, Joe Hearne, who is a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Jan visits many different countries where she researches the architecture and costumes that appear in her work. ‘From cave paintings to Norwegian sleighs, to Japanese gardens, I study the traditions of the many countries I visit and use them as a starting point for my children’s books.'” ***
You can find Jan @ http://www.janbrett.com/index.html
On that site, you can find activities galore, coloring pages, games, and cards. The learning activities and games are not only focused on her stories, but on math and reading skills, phonics, sight words, and so much more. You will be amazed. Under “Blogs ‘n’ Books,” you will find links to units based around her books. Jan writes the monthly blog post herself under “Jan Brett’s Blog.”
I hope you will check out some of Jan’s books. They just might encourage an artist-to-be!
*** Bio taken from her website @ http://www.janbrett.com/biography.htm