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Jewel writing for smaller audience these days

That's What I'd Do

by Jewel, illustrated by Amy June Bates

Simon & Schuster, $17.99

Jewel will be at Barnes & Noble, 1430 Plaza Place in Southlake, for a Q&A with fans, a reading and an autograph session at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Posted 3:07pm on Monday, Sep. 17, 2012

Does Jewel have an ulterior motive for making children's records and for writing a children's book?

Might it be a thinly veiled scheme to create a new generation of fans?

"You've figured out my diabolical plan," the Texas-based singer-songwriter says. "When I'm 60, I'll have a whole new crop of record-buyers. Mwahahaha!"

Actually, Jewel's desire to write a children's book is more innocent, and more personal, than that.

That's What I'd Do (Simon & Schuster, $17.99), which comes with a music CD, is essentially just an expression of love to her 1-year-old son, Kase Townes Murray.

"I was pregnant and I wanted to do something special for him," says Jewel, who has sold more than 27 million albums since her 1995 debut, Pieces of You. "But where do you start when you're writing something to your unborn child?"

She started with The Merry Goes 'Round in 2011, an album of children's songs and lullabies.

"I wanted the songs to cover a variety of things, from a love note, which is what this particular lyric is, to little stories and morals and lessons," she says. "And they were such visual lyrics that I decided to put illustrations to them and do a little book.

"Again, a little selfishly, it was because I wanted to have a book to share with my son."

If other parents choose to read the book to their children, if they want it to become a keepsake and to serve as a love letter to their children as well, so much the better, she says.

"I know many people who don't write," she says, "and it means a lot to them to have a nice Hallmark card that expresses what they want to say, because they don't know how to put it into words.

"That's what I hope this book can do for people: give them a nice moment that they can share with their child."

That's What I'd Do hits bookstore shelves Tuesday, the same day Jewel visits Barnes & Noble in Southlake to read from the book and sign autographs for fans.

It has been a busy year for Jewel, who lives on a Stephenville ranch with her husband, bull-riding champion Ty Murray. In addition to collaborating on the book with artist Amy June Bates, Jewel filmed a movie. She plays the title role in The June Carter Cash Story, which will air on Lifetime later this year.

"I was a big fan. And it was neat to get to play her in a movie about her life -- from when she was a little child with the Carter family and her journey into comedy and writing her own books, and eventually getting married, and how that affected her career," Jewel says. "It was a lot of fun."

Jewel had some personal insight into the role. After all, she knew June Carter Cash.

"I got to open for her and Johnny Cash in England at the Royal Albert Hall, never dreaming that I'd get to play her in a movie later," Jewel says. "She is so iconic. It was a real honor to get to play her and to get her son's blessing. The movie is based on a biography that he wrote."

Jewel hasn't had the most conventional show-business career.

"I kind of make it up as I go," she says. "I guess I have my entire life. It's been a kick in the pants for me. I've exceeded every expectation.

"The neatest thing for me was when my first record did really good [selling more than 11 million copies]. I literally went from being homeless to really making money. I thought, 'If I'm smart with this, if I don't blow it all, the rest of my life gets to be playing and exploring music.'

"That's what I've been doing. I don't have to worry about having hits anymore. So I've just been taking left turns whenever the heck I feel like taking a left turn. I'm very happy for people who are more famous and more ambitious than me. But I'm as famous as I want to be."

And if the kiddies enjoying her songs and her book grow up to be Jewel fans, well, you won't find her complaining about that.

But the one fan who really matters, she says, will be her son.

"I hope he likes the book when he's older," Jewel says. "He'd better not ever tell me if he doesn't."

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