“High Fives For Laker Louie”; an eight-year-old idea becomes children’s book


Shelton and Sawyer proudly hold their book in the bookstore, where it is now available.

Audra Gullquist, Editor-in-Chief

Director of Student Life, Lisa Shumard-Shelton, has released a children’s book that stars Lake Land College’s (LLC) mascot, Laker Louie. Shelton’s book, “High Fives For Laker Louie,” is now available to purchase for five dollars at LLC’s Bookstore. 


The book features illustrations that should be familiar to Navigator readers. Brett Sawyer, adjunct faculty member and the Navigator’s comic artist, created the adorable illustrations of Laker Louie in Shelton’s book. 


Although the book was just recently released, it has been a long-time passion project of Shelton’s. Shelton has always loved writing. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University (EIU) with a major in communication and a minor in English. Right after graduating, she worked at a newspaper for six years and did free-lance writing for four years in Indianapolis. 


In addition, she has two children, a 14-year-old and an eight-year-old. About seven to eight years ago, she spent a majority of her time reading various children’s books to her kids. This sparked the idea for her to write her own book. She expressed that “I’ve always loved writing and reading books to my own children really spurred the idea. We’re Purdue fans, so we read the Purdue Pete book to my son about one million times, so that’s just kind of where the idea was born.”


Although she originally wrote the book seven to eight years ago, she never created the book, since she did not know how to illustrate it. She stated that “I had no idea how to go about illustrating it or anything like that but I knew that I wanted it to be illustrated. I didn’t forget about it, per say, but time passed and I wasn’t proactively doing anything about it.” 


However, a year and a half ago, she moved into her current position of Director of Student Life and was able to find the perfect opportunity to illustrate her book. She mentioned that this opportunity arose when, “Scott Rhine, who is an instructor over in the business division, I was just talking to him about other things and it came up that I had this book that I had written about Laker Louie and he is actually the one who made the connection. Even though in this position I see the Navigator, I’ve seen the comics and I enjoyed them and everything. But I hadn’t made the connection, so he is the one that made the connection between me and Brett that maybe we should get together and talk about illustrating it. So, we did and I shared the info with him and he just had the vision, he just got it right away.”


Sawyer has been creating digital art since 2017 and has been illustrating the Laker Louie comic for the Navigator since 2018. He has also done many commissions for other instructors on campus. He mentioned that besides Rhine’s efforts, one of his creations also helped get Shelton’s attention. He stated that “I think it was partially Scott and also partially I did this Laker Louie finger puppet thing. You could stick your fingers through his little feet and there were duck things you could put on so it looked like he was dancing. It was made on thick paper so people could actually color on it with crayons and colored pencils. I guess Lisa saw that and thought ‘Well that looks really cool, I’d like to have that as an illustration.’ So, it was partially Scott, partially the comic and partially that one little activity that I did that really caught her attention.” 


His illustrations took approximately 50 to 60 hours for him to complete, since the book was much larger than his typical commissions. He explained that “Normally a commission is like a single artwork but this was, to be technical, 12 different artworks. So, it was a little bit of a time investment. But it worked out pretty well. I enjoyed how it was. Lisa was very good to work with.”


Shelton is currently working to get her book available in more places than just the bookstore. LLC’s business division is donating 25 copies of the book to elementary school libraries in the district. She mentioned that “We’re meeting soon with the college marketing department, but hopefully we’ll kind of work to get it out a little bit more. But also on my own, I am hoping to sell a few copies. I’ve talked to a few family owned businesses in our district that have a store-front to see if they might be willing to put it in their shop and people are very receptive to it.” 

Stop by LLC’s bookstore to see how Shelton and Sawyer’s hard work paid off in the form of an adorable children’s book. Also be sure to check out Sawyer’s Laker Louie comics in every issue of the Navigator, as well as on the Navigator website. Keep an eye out for “High Fives For Laker Louie” in local businesses as the book continues to be promoted and loved by many!

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