Friday, December 11, 2015

Jan Brett

Somewhere along the line, I missed out on the phenomenon of children’s literature that is Jan Brett. That omission was rectified when I met up with her on a recent sunny Sunday morning at the main branch of the Davenport Public Library.

I should say I met up with her and her entourage. Brett was accompanied by: her husband, a musician in the Boston Symphony; a pair of live Bantam chickens (I’m going to guess that the egg she held up was just the shell); two large fuzzy costumed creatures (one of which had to be a hedgehog); a staff of 3 or 4 people from Iowa City’s Prairie Lights bookstore (there to sell books); and a full compliment of local librarians brought in for extra duty.

Brett’s custom decorated tour bus rolled into Davenport as part of the tour for her latest book, The Turnip, a lavishly illustrated children’s picture book based on a Russian folktale.

I got there soon after the doors opened and picked up a nice assortment of promotional handouts. I readily accepted everything for the purpose of marketing research. My blue mitten indicated what group I was assigned to if I bought a book and wanted it signed. Blue turned out to be the second of four groups. That was an impressive amount of organization. When I saw the length of the line waiting to buy books—I knew it was needed. The tour bus, a crowd of over four hundred people: Brett had indeed achieved “rock star” status.

Brett’s thirty minute talk was part reading and part drawing lesson. I was impressed that she never talked down to the kids in the audience. She used scientific names and terminology to describe the chickens and explain the differences between male and female. Scientific and G-rated. The lesson went well over the top in terms of helpfulness and gentle encouragement for everyone to try their hand at drawing.

I plan to add this experience to my cache of marketing info. I will never be at this level, but there’s still a lot to be learned at the feet of a master.


  1. Bonus: My photo of Jan's tour bus got me a very nice poster. A classy lady.

  2. Bonus: My photo of Jan's tour bus got me a very nice poster. A classy lady.