BUCYRUS — New York Times best-selling children’s author Jan Brett made her only stop in Ohio at Bucyrus Elementary School during her nationwide book promotion tour Dec. 2.
Brett’s newest book, “Gingerbread Christmas,” is the latest in a long line of beloved children’s books enjoyed by both elementary students and teachers.
“Our publishers select the stops on our book tours, and we are incredibly happy to be in Bucyrus,” said Brett. “We decided to start the bus tour because it gives us the opportunity to meet our biggest fans, students and teachers, when they’re out of school.”
More than 300 people filled the school’s historic auditorium to hear her presentation and have books signed. Many attendees drove more than an hour to see and learn from Brett.
“Every year for as long as I can remember, our teachers have asked me if I could bring Jan Brett to Bucyrus,” said Diane Kaple, Bucyrus Elementary librarian. “I submitted a proposal for a contest last school year, and received the call-in July that Jan Brett was going to bring her tour to Bucyrus. This was definitely a bucket list item for me as an education professional.”
While Brett’s visit to Bucyrus was short, it was filled with many different activities for visitors. The Elementary School students and staff adorned the walls and hallways with Christmas decorations, gingerbread men and other festive holiday items.
“As soon as we received notification that Jan was stopping in Bucyrus, the Right-to-Read committee in the building started planning,” said Kaple. “Everyone in the building did a terrific job helping bring the Elementary School to life to show Jan how much we appreciated her choosing Bucyrus for her book tour.”
During her presentation, Brett shared stories with the audience and introduced them to one of her award-winning roosters. She used the rooster as a point of reference to show how simple it can be to make different illustrations.
“We spend a lot of time in Ohio at the various chicken shows around the state,” said Brett. “We go to Columbus and Lucasville, and the rooster I brought on the tour is a grand champion.”
Anyone familiar with Jan’s books is keenly aware that animals are the main characters in all her books. She attributes this to being raised on a farm.
“I’ve always loved animals since I was a child,” said Brett. “We had a big barn in the back of our house, and our parents let us have all kinds of animals. Horses, donkey, chickens, ducks. We had a great time with them.”
She finds it easy to draw animals and make expressions on them because of her experience as a child.
“Until 7th or 8th grade, my love for animals focused solely on horses,” said Brett. “I still love horses, but don’t have one anymore.”
The one big thing Jan hoped attendees would take away from her visit is to spend time finding their inner creativity.
“I want everyone, including the adults, to find a quiet place where they can spend an hour drawing and just see what evolves,” said Brett. “Drawing is magical, and I think all human beings in the history of the world, across all cultures have art. Drawing is so compelling because there’s an inner force that you’re tapping in to, and things will come out that are discoveries about yourself.”
“It was such a privilege and an honor to host Jan Brett’s book tour at our Elementary School,” said Bucyrus Superintendent Kevin Kimmel. “I want to thank Mrs. Ward, Mrs. Kaple and the entire Elementary School staff for doing such a fantastic job in preparing the building for her visit. It truly was a special night.”