When I was I child, I decided to be an illustrator. I spent many hours reading and drawing. I remember the special quiet of rainy days, when I felt that I could enter the pages of beautiful picture books. Now I try to re-create 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 Museum School in Boston, I spent hours in the Museum of Fine Arts. It was overwhelming to see room-size landscapes and towering stone sculptures, and then moments later to refocus on delicately embroidered kimonos and ancient porcelain. I'm delighted and surprised when fragments of these beautiful images come back to me in my painting. Illustrating children's books always seems like a big adventure because as an artist I must explore and give thought to my subject — an artist needs to know everything about their subject. I try to get a feel for the country and times my characters live in, and I get many ideas from traveling to different countries, where I research the architecture and costumes that appear in my work. After a trip to Norway, I was inspired to write three books! I've found that the details and the odd little things one notices help make a story convincing. In my mind, the story comes alive. And for me, the best part about telling a story is drawing the pictures. Jan Brett lives in a seacoast town in Massachusetts with her husband, who is a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Buffy, her pet hedgehog. To find out more about Jan Brett, visit her Web site. Meet some of her charming characters, and enjoy all her wonderful online and offline activities.