When I met up with Jane Dyer in the MSLA author/illustrator meet and greet, she was celebrating the February 10th release of her book with Sally Lloyd-Jones The House that’s Your Home. She brought the thumbnails of her initial sketches for the book. It was great fun to see her original concept in black and white next to the finished work, even including the X marks over many of the images indicating that the final artwork had been completed. Who doesn’t like the feeling of accomplishment that crossing items off a list brings! It was also wonderful to see the hand lettering in those sketches which was then sent to a fontographer to create the font used in the book.
Jane confided that her intended model for the main character in the book was actually her older sister, but granddaughter Violet kept getting ‘in the way’ and so she became the model instead. Sally Lloyd-Jones was thrilled to see the red shoes on the little girl in the story since she had worn red shoes herself at that age. As a child Jane poured over illustrations by Maginel Wright Enright (younger sister to Frank Lloyd Wright and mother of Elizabeth Enright who wrote Gone-Away Lake and The Saturdays). The Maginel Wright endpapers that Jane so admired in her childhood inspired the endpapers in The House that’s Your Home, and are a work of art in and of themselves.
Despite or perhaps because of a childhood filled with inspiring artwork, Jane began her career as a Kindergarten teacher. It was during those three years that parents of her students saw her artwork and encouraged her to become an illustrator for children. She spent the next eight years illustrating reading stories for textbook publishers before she moved to western Massachusetts and met Jane Yolen who told her she “had to go to New York.” The rest as they say is history.
Jane’s artwork is warm and intimate and invites readers of all ages, but especially very young children into the scene over and over again. Jane Dyer’s art has illustrated books by Jane Yolen: Child of Faerie, Child of Earth, and the Piggins books; she has collaborated with her neighbor and friend Jeanne Birdsall in Lucky and Squash (Jane and Jeanne’s two dogs have a kinship much like the kinship of the dogs in the book). She has worked with authors from Kathi Appelt and Mary Ann Hoberman to Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Her book with Rose Lewis, I Love You Like Crazy Cakes, tells a beautiful story of adoption. When Jane was mailing the finished artwork for Time for Bed written by Mem Fox, she witnessed a rainbow over the FedEx building in Hatfield, perhaps a sign that this would become one of her best-selling books.
A year ago Jane and her family adopted a lamb named Blossom. You can meet Blossom at http://janedyerbooks.blogspot.com/
More of Jane’s artwork can be viewed at http://www.rmichelson.com/Artist_Pages/DyerJane/Jane-Dyer.html
Jordana Shaw is the Library Director at the Groton School