Inspiration and Gretchen the Sheep

Jean is inspired by many things from travels, nature, childhood, art and even friendships. Occasionally, people’s personalities and big-hearted spirit work their way into our stories and influence the animals’ characters. In “Elliot and the Perfect Wave”, we had a special friend woven into the narrative.

Original Cover of Elliot and the Perfect Wave by Jean Tori 2021


Meet Gretchen the Sheep, mentor, helper and optimistic voice to Elliot. She reminds him that he can trust his friends to help out and clean the beaches while he follows his dream of learning how to surf.

Gretchen the Sheep in Elliot and the Perfect Wave book by Jean Tori 2021
Jean, Anthinula and Gretchen in Rome 2007


Gretchen was inspired by an amazing friend, copy editor, Gender Policy and Women’s Development specialist, grammar queen and adventurous travel companion. (Here we are, Jean, Anthinula and Gretchen, in Rome in 2007.)

Once Gretchen the Sheep was incorporated into the community of animal friends, many new illustrative concepts were created. Without Gretchen the Sheep, Jean would never have painted a blue curly wool sheep surfing alongside a mouse, a jigsaw-dressed rabbit, a tiger and a courageous pig.

Some ideas will take you where you never thought you would go.

Elliot and Friends Surfing by Jean Tori Banner Newsletter 13 Nov 2020