MYSTIC — Jan Brett, one of the nation's foremost children's book authors and illustrators, traveled to India to research tigers in the wild for her newest book, a Middle Eastern folk tale that celebrates hard work and appreciation for one's roots. Next Monday, the Massachusetts resident will travel to Mystic to talk about "The Tale of the Tiger Slippers," meet fans, sign copies of the book and give a drawing demonstration.

The book, filled Brett's usual artistic touch, is based on a Persian folktale called "Abu Kassem’s Slippers." At the center of the story is a poor tiger cub whose mother makes him sturdy slippers to protect his feet from stones and thorns while he makes bricks and builds houses. Eventually his hard work makes the tiger wealthy. He continues to wear his cherished slippers until one day he’s asked why someone so prominent and successful would wear such tattered shoes. Feeling embarrassed, Tiger tries to get rid of the slippers, but fate keeps bringing them back. 

Brett's trip to India, combined with her longtime interest in art of the Mughal Dynasty at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, inspired the vibrant world she has created in "The Tale of the Tiger Slippers," she said in a statement. 

Brett, who has more than 42 million books in print, took an expedition to Bandhavgarh, Kanha, and Panna for her research.

Known for her life-like illustrations of animals, landscapes, and flourishes from cultures around the world, Brett said she decided to be an illustrator as a youngster, and spent many hours reading and drawing.

"I remember the special quiet of rainy days, when I felt that I could enter the pages of my beautiful picture books," she said. "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.”

While she is most known for her children’s books, Brett is also an award-winning breeder of ornamental fowl. Some of her best book ideas, she said, come from other interests, including travel, exploration of the natural world, marathon training, and listening to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, where her husband is a musician.

Brett's presentation and demonstration will begin at 5 p.m. at Mystic Congregational Church and will be followed by a book-signing.  

— Nancy Burns-Fusaro

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