Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 1 Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep Virtual Book Tour

Welcome to the first day of our Superhero Zachary’s Book Tour for Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep.” Our first guest, Jack Foster, is the illustrator of the book.  He has captured the essence of each character and the humorous approach to the story.

Jack also illustrates for the online magazines, Stories for Children and Guardian Angel Kids. He spent many years as a political cartoonist for five Chicago area newspapers but his cute style described as a Muppet-Disney mix, is kid friendly and just right for children’s books.

Jack has consented to an interview.  If you have any questions for him, please ask them in the comment section. 

Q. Where do you live?       I live in Lisle Illinois, about 30 miles west of Chicago.
Q. Do you have any pets?  Do you ever draw your pets?      I have a cat named Jasper. He has been the subject of a lot of my work. We had a very cute dog. His name was Tucker. I loved to draw him. He was so fluffy and always smiling.
Q: What made you decide to become an artist?      I love animals. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Then I saw a Walt Disney episode that showed the making of Bambi. Walt Disney brought in a live bunny and put it in the center of the table. All the artist’s sat around the table and drew as the bunny hopped around on the table. I said to myself. “That’s what I want to do!” (Draw animals, not hop around on a table :o)

Q: Did you take art lessons?      I got married right out of high school, so I got a good paying job and went to night school at The American Academy of Art in Chicago. I took cartooning and drawing classes. Then 20 years later I went back and took some computer art classes.

Q: What is the hardest part about illustrating a book?       The hardest part is the consistency. Trying to maintain the same “look” of the characters, as well as their clothing, hairstyles and proportions. In one of my books, I didn’t notice that I had changed the color of the main characters shirt in the middle of the story…oooops…. Maybe he ran home and changed when we weren’t looking :o)

Q: Please describe the process you go through to illustrate a book.     When illustrating a book, I fist read through the whole story a couple of times. I visualize the characters mostly at first.Then I sketch out the characters. Then, depending on the number of pages, I break up the story into even segments. I read and reread a segment. I already have the characters, so I start visualizing them in the story, page by page. Then I do up a quick storyboard, which looks like a giant comic strip. The rest is just refining the sketches, scanning them into my computer and painting them.

Q: Why did you decide to illustrate Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep?       I love the story. I was a big brother and I could identify with Zachary and his adventurous imagination. I like to draw stories with adventure, animals and apple sauce… there wasn’t any apple sauce in the story, but two out of three worked for me ;o)

Q: How long did it take for you to illustrate Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep?   It took me about two and a half months.  Each illustration takes between eight and twelve hours  … the cover a little longer.

Q: What materials and supplies did you use for the pictures?      All I use is a pencil and a sketchbook. The rest is done digitally on the computer.

Q: How did you decide on the cover?    Actually, I had drawn a baby sleeping on a moon about ten years ago. It was always one of my favorites. I decided to redo it with Layla. Then I added Zachary making the sh sh sh sound. I wanted the reader to get an idea of some of the adventure in the story, so I included the bear and train. I took a while to set it up so it didn’t look crowded and still had enough room for the title.

Q: Which illustration in this book is your favorite and why?    There is a page where Zachary is pushing Layla in the stroller and a big wind kicks up! That was a blast… so much going on. Zachary is startled and struggling to hold onto the stroller. He has one foot in the air. The blanket is blowing away and baby Layla is not vey happy.  It became my favorite because it was the most fun to draw.

Q: Do you model your characters from real people?     I was thinking about myself as a kid when I was drawing Zachary, then I remembered a friend of mine in kindergarten who had this cool wave in his hair. So I gave him the “wave”. Thanks to Bobby Farrell… where ever you are ;o)

Q: Was there part of the story that was difficult to illustrate?     On one page, Zachary flies up to the top of a bookcase to get some diapers. It was difficult to make it look like he was soaring in front of the bookcase and not climbing or standing on a shelf.

Q: You have an incredible talent for showing movement in your illustrations. What are your secrets?       I’m the dad of five kids. There was always something going on at our house. I learned how to harness the energy in the house by capturing it in sketchbooks.  My kids taught me a lot.

Q: Do you have a collection of your own artwork?      I have a portfolio of all my best work… I guess you could call it a collection. Since most of my work is done digitally, I have to print  any work that I want to keep physically.

Q: Do you hang illustrations in your home as artwork?     Sometimes I’ll be working on a project and my wife will tell me that she would like something like that in a frame to hang in our house. I’ve done a few, but honestly, she is such a wonderful woman, I should do a lot more for her.

Q: Do you have any wise words for students who like to draw?      Your sketchbook…Don’t leave home without it! Also, set an illustration goal. There are so many avenues to take. If you like comic art… make your own comic book,  children’s art… make up a “dummy” book. Set a goal, and do one thing every day toward that goal. Even if it only takes you ten minutes, do it. In a year you will amaze yourself at how far you’ve come and how much you’ve grown as an artist. I speak from experience. I let weeks turn into months and into years without pursuing my God given talents. Then I set a goal and did a thing a day.

Q. What is your favorite medium?       I don’t have patience for oils. I like that acrylics dry quickly. …I’ve always loved airbrushing. I try to give my children’s book illustrations a kind of airbrush feel.

Q. What artists/styles have influenced you the most?        Walt Disney has inspired me as an artist and as a person. He was an amazing man who never gave up. His feature length films have some of the most wonderful artwork. Also, my character style has definitely been influenced by Jim Henson of Muppet fame. Most of my characters have large round eyes sitting atop their heads…. ala Elmo, Burt, Ernie…. etc…..:o)

Q. Do you also paint besides what you do for books?      I do airbrushed murals for our church’s kid’s rooms and have done some in homes as well. We are renting now, so I don’t have any murals in my home…. It’s too hard to take them with us when we move. :o)

Q. Do you also write?    Reading all the wonderful stories that I have had the privilege of illustrating has given me the writing bug. I have started several stories… but MAN, writing is hard!  Maybe someday, but for now I’ll stick to the easy stuff. :o)

You can see more of Jack’s work and  the other books he’s illustrated for Guardian Angel Publishing at

 Author, Kathy Stemke has a passion for writing, the arts and all things creative. She has Bachelor degrees from Southern Connecticut State University and Covenant Life Seminary, as well as graduate coursework from New York Institute of Technology and Columbia University. Hanging her hat in the North Georgia Mountains, she has been a teacher, tutor, and writer for many years.

As a freelance writer and ghostwriter, Kathy has published hundreds of articles in directories, websites and magazines. She is a contributing editor for The National Writing for Children's Center and a reviewer for Sylvan Dell Publishing. As a retired teacher, Kathy has several activities published with Gryphon House Publishing. Kathy is also part of the team at DKV Writing 4 U.

 Kathy’s first children’s picture book, Moving Through All Seven Days, was published on Lulu. Her next picture book, Sh, Sh, Sh Let the Baby Sleep, was released in May of 2011. Her third picture book, Trouble on Earth Day is scheduled for release in June of 2011.

 Mrs.Stemke offers great teaching tips and children’s book reviews as well as a monthly newsletter titled, MOVEMENT AND RHYTHM, on her blog.

 Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep can be found:

What is the secret identity of the Green Lantern?

Come to Robert Medak’s blog June 14th for the answer.
Remember; Every answer or comment you make during this book tour puts your name in the hat for a fantastic prize, which includes amazon gift certificates, books, superhero figurines, and much more
There will be drawings at the end of the book tour from those who comment or answer a superhero trivia question. it includes this blog or any other site during the tour from June 13th-July 5th. Please include your email address in the comment in a safe format: dancekam1(at)yahoo(dot) com

The prizes include:
· $10 Amazon gift certificate
· Mozart in the Future by Tania Rodriges-Peters
· “The Wild Soccer Bunch” books 1 & 2 by Joachim Masannek
· “30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog” by Tamar Geller
· Superhero figurines
· “The Green Bronze Mirror” by Lynne Ellison
· “The Face of Deceit” by Ramona Richards
Download a coloring page from for the book, “Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep.” Color it, and email a picture to Kathy Stemke at dancekam1 (at) yahoo (dot) com for a chance to win one of the prizes below
· “Small Gifts in God’s Hands” by Max Lucado
· Superhero figurine
· “Making Memories” by Janette Oke


Cheryl said...

Great interview. I love Jack's work. I can usually pick out the books he's illustrated without looking at the credit.

Keep up the wonderful work, Jack.

I think Green Lantern's secret identity if Alan Scott.

Thanks for the chance to win. Wishing you both the best,



kathy stemke said...

Thanks for visiting Cheryl! Your in it to win it!

Sylvia Ney said...

Wonderful beginning to the book tour. You've prepared a great marketing plan. Best of luck!

Donna M. McDine said...

Terrific interview! I enjoyed getting to know Jack better. I had the honor of meeting Jack in person at the GAP gathering in St. Louis last fall and he is a true gem!

Best wishes,

Children’s Author
Write What Inspires You Blog
The Golden Pathway Story book Blog
Donna M. McDine’s Website

Lynda S . Burch said...

Great interview of Jack. He's a dynamo when it comes to kid's art.
Love his work- its so original and fresh.
Lynda Burch

anthony stemke said...

I do not know the identity of Green Lantern's alter ego but I certainly enjoyed reading the interview with Jack the illustrator. He is very talented and quite a unique person.
Best wishes on your book tour, I'm sure it will be a success, its a great children's book.

kathy stemke said...

Thanks Sylvia, Donna, Lynda, and Tony for stopping by. Your comment makes you eligible for a chance at a prize!

I LOVE Jack's work too. He's Amazing!

Anonymous said...

That was a great interview. I'm already a fan of Jack's work.

Heidiwriter said...

Love the cover illustration! Illustrating must be as hard as writing! LOL (It would be impossible for me!)

Kavitha Punniyamurthi said...

Thank you for doing this interview, Kathy.

I'm a huge fan of Jack's artwork! This was such a fun interview and Jack has a terrific sense of humour! :)

Maeve Frazier said...

Great interview. I am really going to enjoy following the book tour. Best of luck to the both of you! Maeve


kathy stemke said...

kavitha and Maeve, thanks for stopping by. You're both in it to win it.

jack certainly has a great sense of humor.

Jack Foster said...

Thanks you for all the kind, encouraging and wonderful comments on the interview. Kathy, thank you for including me in the tour. I see you are off with a bang! Great contest!