When writing and illustrating this book i wanted to show what inspires and influences me in my life. the following is just some of the little things that make me who i am. while working with your art or craft it is always nice to share your inspirations.
Nike Air Mags (Page 6)
The Nike Air Mags are the iconic shoes featured in one of my all time favorite movies: "Back To The Future Part II". Watching that movie growing up, I dreamt about owning a pair of Air Mags and riding a Hover Board just like Marty McFly. When I was sketching out the idea of a scene inside of a science lab, I immediately had the idea of placing a pair of my very own Air Mags. You can see the shoes underneath the desk on page 6. The name "Roy" on the back of the shoes is from a nickname that was given to me when I was in high school.
Batman (page 8)
If you look closely on the top of page 8, you will see the iconic "Bat Signal" in the sky. Batman is my all-time favorite fictional character. I have had a fascination with the character ever since I was 4 years old. I would watch The Batman (1989) movie as many times in a day as I could. With that being said, Michael Keaton is my Batman. If you take a look on page 23, you can also see the woman holding the basketball wearing a pearl necklace. That necklace is a tribute to the pearl necklace that Martha Wayne wears in the story.
Cochlear Implant (Page 17)
The red haired girl featured on page 17 is one of my favorite pictures featured in this book. The girl is my niece and her name is Riley Neidzwicki and she was born on October 7th, 2012. Days after Riley's arrival, it was determined that she was deaf in both ears. However, with the advancement of technology, she was able to get cochlear implants and today she is able to hear the world around her. You can see the cochlear implant magnets on the back of her head in the picture. You can learn more about Riley's journey in her hearing video by clicking here.
Michael's Secret Stuff (Page 4)
The blue water bottle labeled, "Michael's Secret Stuff", is from the movie "SpaceJam" (1996) that featured the classic Looney Tunes Characters and Michael Jordan. This movie was at the peak of Michael Jordan's popularity and as a 5th grader who loved basketball, this was a must see movie for me. Michael's secret stuff is actually just a plain bottle filled with fountain water. Bugs Bunny labels the bottle, Michael's Secret Stuff, to convince his teammates that if they drink the special "mixture" they will have what it takes to defeat the MonStars.
Hover Board (Page 6)
I always wanted to ride a Hover Board. I used to ride a skate board around and play out the scenes from "Back To The Future II" as the theme song played in my head. This was one of my favorite pictures to draw. I love the colors and the shapes. This was an absolute must in the Science Lab scene on page 6. The scientist in the scene also resembles, "Doc" - the mad scientist who discovered time travel.
Way of Thinking (page 21)
The light bulb that is located on the bottom of page 21 is inspired by my father, Michael Jones. The quote, "practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect" is something that he preached when it came to my practice habits. The light bulb featured is the symbol that is on the cover of his very own book titled, "Way of Thinking". The book features tales of adversity and self-doubt through his own experiences of running his own business, parenting, and helping others. "Way of Thinking" is a mindset that will help you over come whatever life throws at you.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (page 8)
Located in the top image block of the city scene, you can see a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle peeking through the sewer. The turtle is "Donatello" and you can tell by the purple band around his wrist. Donatello is my favorite of the four turtles because of his passion for science and technology. As a child, I would take a broom stick and pretend that it was Donetello's bow staff and use it to fight against imaginary foot soldiers. At 5 years old, my imagination got the best of me when I fell off a close line and landed on my side. The fall broke my right arm and put me in a sling for 6 months. During that time I developed great coordination with my left arm and the injury actually helped my basketball development.
Seinfeld (page 5)
On the back wall of the science lab you will see a poster with the shapes that are similar to the logo for the show Seinfeld (1989-1998). Jerry Seinfeld is my favorite stand-up comedian and his show is my favorite show of all-time. As a broke college student, I saved up for months to buy the complete dvd box set. I have seen every episode including all of the hours of bonus features. The show featured 180 episodes over 9 seasons. The final episode aired on May 14th, 1998 and was watched by over 76.3 million people. It is regarded as one of the most successful TV shows of all-time.
Jim Basketball Jones (page 23)
In the bottom image block you can see the woman from the support team holding a blue and orange basketball. That ball is a Jim Basketball Jones basketball and it is handed out over 400 times a year during school assemblies. My Uncle is Jim Basketball Jones and he has been traveling to schools for over 20 years performing character education assemblies. He has been a great mentor to me in my life as he has guided me to becoming a youth motivational speaker myself. I travel and spin a Jim Basketball Jones basketball every time I perform. You can visit his website at: www.jimbasketballjones.com.
Jeep Wrangler (page 8)
Again on the top image block of page 8, you can see a white jeep parked in the street. At the time I was working on this book, a white jeep wrangler was the vehicle that my wife drove. We have now since traded that two door jeep wrangler for a 4 door jeep wrangler since the birth of our first child, Braxton. We named the jeep in this picture "SnowWhite" for its white body and top. We love our jeep wrangler and there is nothing better then taking off the top on a nice day.
walsh university (page 14)
The chair featured in the stance scene on page 14 is a bench chair that we used for the Walsh University Basketball Program. I played basketball for Walsh University from 2004-2008 and I coached for the program from 2009-2011. In 2005 we won the school's first ever NAIA Div. 2 Men's National Championship. The program has developed into one of the premier Division 2 basketball programs in the Mid-West with a strong tradition of winning on and off the court. The program is currently coached by Jeff Young who is the fastest coach in the programs history to reach 200 wins.