Goodbye, Baby Max | Book Review

By heather at 2:29 pm on Friday, February 15, 2008

Diane & Rich Cantrell just passed this review by Ernest Dempsey onto me for our book, “Good-bye, Baby Max:”

“Many children books are printed each month to amuse kids of varying ages. This colorful, hardcover children’s title Good-bye, Baby Max (Bridgeway Books, Texas, 2007) by Diane Cantrell & Heather Castles is special in its purpose of teaching an invaluable lesson: that of properly saying the final farewell to a loved one who is no more. The book tells the story of the unfortunate baby chick Max who doesn’t make it into life while his twins Dora and Spiderman appear healthy out of their shells. The kids, eagerly awaiting the birth of the chicks, are heartbroken over the death of Baby Max and so their teacher uses her wisdom and care to lead them toward the appropriate way of showing their love and expressing their grief.

The importance of involving children in mourning is increasingly being acknowledged by developmental psychologists since children do sense the loss no matter how much they are coaxed into believing that ‘everything is ok.’ By being left out with the ‘mystery’, their wee minds are inclined to conclude that something terribly wrong has happened; something that is not worth speaking. This sows the seeds of fear and detachment in their mental development. Being a Licensed Professional Counselor and former KG teacher, Diane Cantrell has created a very purposeful book for children-one that is at once a story, a poem, and a healthy course of helping children get over grief. The book’s illustrations by Heather Castles are very appealing to a child’s imagination. There is a good deal here in Good-bye, Baby Max to learn for children ages 4 to 8 years and the 32-pages book is a must read for all kids of this age category.”

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Goodbye, Baby Max | Is Available for Pre-order at

By heather at 4:44 pm on Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yippee! After all our hard work, Diane Cantrell’s “Good-bye, Baby Max” is now available online through Bridgeway Books at! The hard cover book (complete with dustjacket, emboss & spot varnish) is on sale at for US$11.53 (Retails at $16.95), and will be available in shops in February 2008. If you pre-order the book, you can get an additional 5% off at checkout.

“Mrs. B’s class excitedly awaits the birth of three baby chicks. When Max is unable to crack open his shell, the children’s loving teacher assists them in expressing their feelings of loss and planning a special good-bye.”

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Good-bye, Baby Max | Has Gone to Print!

By heather at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, August 7, 2007

good-bye baby max childrens book illustration chickens kindergarten

After the detailed process of revising and tweaking the layout of Diane Cantrell’s “Good-bye, Baby Max,” it has officially been sent off to the printer! This is the finished front cover… it was a bit of a challenge as the illustration used for the cover (below) had to be chopped in half, and the right & left sides swapped so that the right side of the original illustration would show on the back cover. Tricky stuff! I also moved Mrs. B to the front cover with Photoshop. The rug was also a later addition to the illustration, painted seperately, then scanned and added in with Photoshop.

It was such a valuable experience working with the the team at Bridgeway Books on the cover & interior design of the story to complement the illustrations. I set up the print-ready files for the book jacket, cover, endpages & interior with Adobe InDesign CS2. For a sneak peak at the inside illustrations, check out this previous post! (Read on …)

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Goodbye, Baby Max | Revised Final Illustrations

By heather at 10:08 pm on Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Just finished doing some revisions to the final illustrations for Diane Cantrell’s “Good-bye, Baby Max”… some were minor (botox injections) some were major (plastic surgery.) From brightening Mrs. B’s blonde hair to adding a colourful rug to the classroom, to adding in a new illustration of the momentos left for baby Max, they all improved the illustrations quite a bit. (Read on …)

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Goodbye, Baby Max | Final Illustrations

By heather at 6:31 am on Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I think I’m 99% done the illustrations for Diane Cantrell’s “Good-bye, Baby Max”! Diane is having a look through to see if anything else needs to be changed… I’ve got a couple details I’d like to change (like adding Mrs. B’s hoops in on spread 4!), maybe fiddle with brightening some highlights & colour correcting in Photoshop…but this is pretty close to finished! Any feedback at this stage would be most welcome! Next up will be playing with the typography and getting the book ready for print… (Read on …)

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Goodbye, Baby Max | Fifth Layer

By heather at 9:34 pm on Sunday, January 7, 2007

I have brightened up the colours & added some more details to Diane Cantrell’s “Good-bye, Baby Max” children’s book illustrations… only a few days away from completing now! Thought I’d post with the type this time so I took some screen shots from the InDesign layout. I find it helpful seeing the illustrations with the type on top at various stages, to be sure the illustration behind the text is light / dark enough for the text to read easily. Read on to check out the rest of the illustrations in the book.

(Read on …)

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Goodbye, Baby Max | Fourth Layer

By heather at 3:33 am on Wednesday, January 3, 2007

I had a chance to take a few pictures today of the progress on Diane Cantrell’s “Good-bye, Baby Max”…have happily been illustrating on the couch “watching” (er, listening to) all 3 seasons of Arrested Development, and the first 2 seasons of Black Adder….I’m working on a few of these tonight so will probably just update this post rather than posting a fresh one for the 3 that are furthest behind…

(…am working on the pencil work for this one right now!)

(I think I’m happy with this one, it’s just about done) (Read on …)

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Goodbye, Baby Max | Third Layer

By heather at 7:48 pm on Thursday, December 14, 2006

I’m finding working on illustration board to be a lot of fun for Diane Cantrell’s children’s book “Good-bye, Baby Max.” It’s lovely applying tone on such a smooth surface. I’m kind of mixing up the layers here…a bit of watercolour, a bit of pencil, a shade-at-a-time as I’m trying to keep the colours pretty soft. On a couple of the spreads I’m tempted to keep it to a monochromatic pallet (the one of the kids looking at the eggs, and the one of the kids sitting in a circle when they first hear about poor Baby Max.) We’ll see how it looks once the others are more filled out with colour & detail.

(Read on …)

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Goodbye, Baby Max | Second Watercolour Wash

By heather at 10:04 pm on Thursday, December 7, 2006

The second watercolour wash for Diane Cantrell’s “Good-bye, Baby Max” was pretty satisfying as you can see right away how the lighting will be treated for each illustration. I’m trying a new technique to give it a golden, nostalgic feel …I’m going to try working with limited colours to start and then once everything is looking good, I’ll add tints of other colours (purples, blues, greens) afterwards with a wash of watercolour. Hey, feel free to post any comments or questions along the way if you’re interested in the process or have comments on the illustrations…I won’t bite!

(Read on …)

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Goodbye, Baby Max | First Watercolour Wash

By heather at 11:21 am on Tuesday, December 5, 2006

I am working on Diane Cantrell’s children’s book “Good-bye, Baby Max”, and she has kindly let me post the progress of her story as I’m illustrating it! This is a warm story about a kindergarten class who learn to deal with grief in different ways, when one of their baby chicks doesn’t hatch. Written in prose, this story was a challenge to illustrate just because it is dealing with an entire class with several characters. Materials to be used : watercolour & coloured pencil on cold-press illustration board.

Technique : Because I couldn’t use a light table to transfer the sketch to the final paper from behind (the illustration board is too thick), I purchased an artograph Tracer and found that very helpful to transfer & scale up to the correct size from my small sketches. I’m laying down the warmest colours first, as working with skin tones can be tricky to keep warm & clean and I find this has been the easiest way to do both. The colours will be much warmer & friendly on the pages where the kids are happy, and cool colours to give things a more serious tone on the pages where the kids are dealing with grief. Lighting will be in most cases from behind or from a bright side source to give some interesting shadows. The next step will be to go over with one more wash before using pencil, as these will be very tonal illustrations and I want to make sure all the bodies & structure are just right by shading with pencil first and layering the watercolour on after.

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