Book Review: The 3 Little Dassies by Jan Brett—a charming tale for children

Author at Wonderland Books & Toys Oct. 16

By Susan Johnson
Copy Editor

Jan Brett has done it again! This prolific, gifted children’s author and illustrator debuts her newest book, The 3 Little Dassies (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-399-25499-4), this fall. Jan and her husband, Joe Hearne, are world travelers, and wherever they go, Jan incorporates some of the local flavor and texture into her books. She does extensive research, then turns it into exquisite artwork to accompany her story.

Her latest creation is The 3 Little Dassies, for ages 3-5, with a locale in Namibia, Africa. The story is based on the old tale, “The Three Little Pigs,” with an African twist. We have the three types of houses, plus a predator—in this case, not a wolf but an eagle. If the trio of charming animals are unfamiliar to you, perhaps you might have encountered them by another name—the rock hyrax. In fact, the late Joy Adamson, best known for her rehabilitation of the lioness Elsa, had one of these little creatures for a pet. Strangely enough, these rodent-like mammals are actually related to the elephant.

Jan Brett has more than 35 million books in print, having a huge audience of more than 1 million, plus a website that exceeds 200,000 visitors per month. Her books are more than simply stories to entertain—each one is a stunning piece of art with gorgeous, exquisitely detailed illustrations on every page—including the margins around the text. The 3 Little Dassies showcases a selection of colorful African textiles as well as highlighting the unusual terrain and a couple of indigenous creatures—the ever-present eagle and Agama (lizard) man.

Some of Brett’s past research trips besides Namibia have included Austria, Botswana, Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Canadian Arctic, China, Costa Rica, Martinique and Switzerland.

In addition to her interest in writing and illustrating, Jan’s talents reveal a multi-dimensional person. She is an award-winning breeder of ornamental fowl (chickens) that have been featured on The Martha Stewart Show. She was profiled by Runner’s World and has run the Boston Marathon seven times to benefit the MS Society. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, where her husband has performed as a bassist for 48 years. Wherever Jan goes, she tries to bring the magic and wonder of other cultures into children’s lives. She also hopes to encourage the desire to conserve animal habitats through education.

The 3 Little Dassies went on sale Sept. 21, and the author will be available for book signing from 5 to 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 16, at Wonderland Books & Toys in Edgebrook Shopping Center, 1625 N. Alpine Road, Rockford. This is part of Brett’s national tour that she does every fall. The 32-page hardcover picture book retails for $17.99. Come on out and meet a fascinating person and extremely talented artist!

From the Oct. 13-19, 2010 issue

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