With over thirty four 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. I'm delighted and surprised when fragments of these beautiful images come back to me in my painting.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.
Brett's beautifully executed retelling of this classic story is distinguished by the use of luxuriant color and a wealth of visual detail. Her bears are attired in festive Bavarian garb; they live in a magnificent thatched rock-and-wood structure that leans against a tree; and their household furnishings are lavish and intricatea candle-holder in the likeness of an owl, an acorn-patterned rug, several carved wooden bears adorning the head- and footboards of Papa Bear's bed. The one overly precious touch is the continued reference to the baby bear as a ``a little, small, wee bear.'' The rest of this is sumptuous and endlessly engrossing; with such a display before them, readers will hardly blame Goldilocks for her lack of restraint. Ages 3-8. (October)
PreS-Gr 2 Brett's retelling, adapted from Andrew Lang, is strong and smooth. These well-heeled Scandinavian-looking bears live in a house that would put yuppy collectors of country homes and folk art to shame, and the elaborate, imaginative, and richly colored designs bear repeated viewings. Every tuft of beary fur is clear, every item of clothing is ornamented, and every article of furniture is carved, patterned, or decorated. Bear motifs are repeated throughout, including carved bear beds, handmade bear porridge bowls, and a solid bear door. Brett's use of borders continues to expand upon the storyline. Here wide woody borders in the double-page spreads contain elements of the action occuring elsewhere. They alternate with simple narrow borders in the single-page illustrations. Personality emerges nicely. The ``little, small, wee'' bear bumbles into everything, and the great huge bear is alternately gentle and gruff, but the middle-sized bear attracts little direct attention. Goldilocks is somewhat less successful. At first, her face is finely drawn, but in later pages it's a bit flattened. Overall, some readers might wish for less decorations and some imaginative space, and may be overwhelmed by the amount of detail, but Brett's fans will be delighted. Leda Schubert, Vermont Department of Education, Montpelier
Praise for Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Brett's paintings are marked by unusual clarity and brightness, but also by humor. . . . This is a delight. -Booklist, starred review A charming new edition of a favorite nursery tale. . . Perfect to share with individual or group, this belongs on everyone's list. -Kirkus Reviews, starred review