HENRYHERZ.COM → KidLit, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

By Henry, Josh & Harrison Herz


Star Wars Reimagined as Calvin & Hobbes

Illustrations by Brian Kesinger (who was kind enough to blurb my first picture book, MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES). Published by Bored Panda.

Those still lamenting the end of Calvin & Hobbes can rejoice. Brian Kesinger, story artist for Marvel and Disney Animation Studios, and Bill Watterson fan, has digitally drawn a Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Calvin & Hobbes mashup. His motivation? Kesinger was interested in exploring the relationships from the Star Wars movie.

“Everyone has cherished memories of ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ and ‘Star Wars. It’s like the peanut butter and chocolate of pop culture,” said Kesinger. “The fun for me is taking two groups of very well-known characters and putting them in scenarios together to see what would happen. This trend has become very popular among fan artists and it’s a great way to make someone reconnect with their childhood.”

Kesinger told Bored Panda that it takes roughly an hour to create a piece: “coming up with the idea usually takes the most time but once I have a concept the execution goes pretty quickly.”






Interview with debut picture book author Penny Parker Klostermann

Penny Parker Klostermann loves all kinds of books, but especially very silly picture books that make her laugh. Her debut book flew onto shelves August of last year. She has been known to hug her favorite picture books, and seriously hopes that someday her books will gain huggable status too.


For what age audience do you write?

I write picture books and poetry for the young and the young at heart.

Henry: Me too!!

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book happens to be my debut book. THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT is the tale of a very hungry dragon whose manners are somewhat medieval. Burp!

Henry: Bad manners, but at least a nutritious diet high in fiber and iron. Never chew a knight with your mouth open.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

A fit of the giggles . . . followed by an irresistible urge to hug my book . . . followed by another irresistible urge to open the front cover and start all over again.

Henry: I’m sensing a hugging trend here. I’m happy when kids read my stories, regardless of how they publicly display affection for books.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

The first draft. I have a story in my mind, but when I start putting it on paper, it seems to lose some of the sparkle. Instead of just getting down the basic story and adding the sparkle later, I have a tendency to self-edit as I go making a 500 word story a painfully long ordeal.

Henry: I give myself permission to NOT edit the first draft. So, for me, the first draft is the easiest. It’s the revising, especially trying to look at a manuscript with fresh eyes, that I find hardest. Murdering one’s darlings is hard work.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

Meeting the KidLit community. What an amazing bunch of people! They are generous and encouraging.

Henry: I completely agree. The experienced writers are welcoming far beyond my expectation. I wonder if Hollywood treats new actors the same way…

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Read stacks and stacks of books in your genre. Reading will give you a reference point as you’re learning your craft.

Henry: That’s good advice. Learn from others. Or take it in a new direction, as you did with OLD DRAGON, and I did with WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY – my medieval fantasy homage (clearly one was needed) to Laura Numeroff’s brilliant IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A PENNY.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

I have to choose Seuss. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Henry: Once in a while I meet someone whose brains are located elsewhere…

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Flying. It would be so handy and save a lot of money. No gas. No tires, etc.

Henry: Flying IS a very handy superpower. However, if you really think about the details (which is what all obsessive-compulsive types do), there are some related challenges to overcome. See my post in which Conan O’Brien interviews Edna Mode.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Why the old dragon, of course. Why? He inspired my debut book! Go dragon!

Henry: Boy, I did NOT see that coming… As Bilbo Baggins says, “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” I’m a huge fantasy fan, and have a dragon in my as yet unsold picture book, BEST PET IN THE CASTLE.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to travel and hope to see many more places in my life. When I’m home, I enjoy walking outdoors and enjoying nature.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

There WAS an old author . . .

Henry: There was an old author who liked to write rhyme. No more are forthcoming; she’s run out of time.

Where can readers find your work?

In bookstores and at http://pennyklostermann.com/

Henry: Thank you for participating, Penny. This article is also posted at the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.

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Star Wars Characters on Vacation

From Kyle Hagey and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda. If Star Wars and The Sound of Music had a baby…

“Not sure why I made these. I guess I was just confused why everyone is fighting all the time.

It takes about a month to make one. Sometimes longer. But they’re really fun so I like to go slow and play around with different ideas, and flowers, and junk even if they’re mostly dead ends.

All the images are 100% CGI. I used nothing but computers and coffee to make them.”


Interview with picture book author Beth Ferry

Beth Ferry reads and writes near the beach in New Jersey where she lives with her husband, kids and a variety of creatures. She is the author of STICK AND STONE and the forthcoming LAND SHARK, PIRATE’S PERFECT PET and SWASHBY AND THE SEA. She loves alliteration and all types of word play. You can find out more at http://www.bethferry.com.


For what age audience do you write?

I write picture books. I hope that means they are for every age.

Henry: I write picture books too!! What a coincidence!!

Tell us about your latest book.

STICK AND STONE, my debut picture book, beautifully illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, is, at its heart, a friendship story. With a nod to the childhood saying, Sticks and stones may break my bones. . ., this story personifies STICK AND STONE and highlights the importance of friendship.

Henry: I first saw STICK AND STONE at a Texas Librarian Association conference, and was immediately drawn to the hilarious illustrations. I read the book on the spot.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

I hope readers will see . . .
how one word, or one act of kindness, can make a difference.
how sticking up for a friend, or even a not-quite-yet friend, is important.
how friends rescue each other in different ways.
how nothing is more important than a good friend – having one and being one.

Henry: No man is an island, but sometimes a rock is a friend.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

I think the most challenging part of writing is coming up with a worthy idea. There are so many amazing picture books in existence, so to come up with a unique idea that will add to the already magnificent collection is challenging.

Henry: That’s so true. I find it very hard to be objective about my own writing. Hence the importance of opinions from one’s critique group and literary agent.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer? 

For every up, there is a down. I think this is a life lesson as well. Writing is definitely a roller coaster ride. It’s thrilling, but scary, with many peaks and dips.

Henry: Yup. Good news: I wrote a great story. Bad news: my critique group recommended a lot of changes. Good news: The rewrite is stronger. Bad news: Now I’m wondering if it really is a great story. Good news: My agent liked it. Bad news: No publishing houses responded right away. Good news: A publishing house expressed interest. Bad news: The advance is small and option clause too restrictive. Good news: My agent was able to negotiate better terms. Bad news: Now I have to wait 18 months to see the book in print. Good news: I’ve got other stories to work on in the interim.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

Having a first grade class applaud after I finished reading STICK AND STONE. It was such a delightful surprise, one I will never forget.

Henry: You rock, Beth!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

This may sound cliché, but READ. Read everything that is being published. Although writing is a solitary vocation, publishing is not. You need to know what is working, what is selling and then try to reconcile what you like to write, or need to write, with what can be published.

Henry: Yup. A lion is the product of all the zebras it’s eaten. A writer is the product of all the books he or she has read. But do NOT try to follow a trend. Just write the story that is inside you, demanding to be let out. That philosophy drove me to produce a rhyming picture book, NEVER FEED A YETI SPAGHETTI (currently on submission) when I kept telling myself that writing AND selling rhymers is doubly challenging.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

Most emphatically yes! I love quotes.

My very favorite is by Emily Dickinson – “Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.” Not only does it appeal to me lyrically, but I think it is one of the truest things I have ever read

Another quote that speaks to me is by Isak Dinesen: “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.”

Also “You know nothing, John Snow.” It is so much fun to say and a great retort. Thank you, George R. R. Martin

And lastly Roald Dahl’s, “So shines a good deed in a weary world.” That one just breaks my heart.

Henry: Spoiler alert: Charlie Button from CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is actually Darth Vader’s son!

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

I usually memorize whatever story I am working on. This may sound crazy, but since the word count is pretty low, it’s possible. Then I basically revise in my head anywhere and everywhere. I can hear the weak and slow parts as I’m saying them out loud. So I talk to myself a lot! In the car, in the shower, walking around the house. Hearing my words out loud is the most valuable revision tool I know.

Henry: It’s generally not a good sign when you have to explain to people that you are not crazy. :)

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Teleportation. I would love to be able to Star-Trek myself from place to place all in a matter of seconds. “Beam me up, Scotty!

Henry: Not only would that be a time-saver and very convenient, it is also a very green form of transportation. But, as with all science fiction, we must take care to think things through. To wit, if you beam to Paris to have some baguettes and wine, how do you avoid materializing within a solid object? Is the momentum of an object (we are on a spinning planet, after all) transferred when you teleport? And now you see why an Engineering major should perhaps not be a picture book writer…

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Edgar Allan Poe’s raven. I just love that bird. With a bird like that, saying no would be a snap.

Henry: No dragons, sparkly vampires or werewolves for you. What about a helpful brownie or mischievous imp? My next book, WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY features the latter. They are cooler than ravens.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m an avid reader and could truly spend the entire day reading. I love going to the beach in the summer, and, hmmm, reading. Also, playing Catan with my kids or Scrabble/Boggle/Clue. I like to go on walks, but only if there is the possibility of seeing some interesting creatures.

Henry: Reading and word games. I did NOT see that coming…

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

A life well lived.

Henry: She gathered no moss.

Where can readers find your work?

Bookstores and libraries everywhere, filed under F for Ferry and hopefully for Fun.

Henry: Fantastic! Thanks for joining us. This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.


Interview with children’s book author Margo Sorenson

Author of twenty-nine traditionally-published books for young readers, Margo Sorenson has won recognition and awards for her work, including being named a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award in YA Fiction. When she’s not mailing letters to the Adorables (the grandchildren), written by the silly bunnies who live in her yard, she writes down what she hopes are shiny new ideas on random scraps of paper, and reads, reads, reads. She lives in California with her very patient husband who doesn’t mind that she hears voices talking in her head, or that she sometimes stares vacantly into space. Her newest picture book, SPAGHETTI SMILES, taps into her childhood in Italy and her love of Italian food as well as of whimsy.


For what age audience do you write?

I write for young readers from three to eighteen, and I write all genres, but, right now, my favorite is to try to write humorous, whimsical picture books that I hope will make kids gasp and giggle—and give them hope.

Henry: I write picture books too. I love both the young age of the audience, and the challenge of telling a story in fewer than 500 words.

Tell us about your latest book.

SPAGHETTI SMILES was lots of fun to write, and I love the way the artist David Harrington took the text to the next level with his vibrant, vivid illustrations. The young hero, Jake, must find a new neighbor for his Uncle Rocco’s crazy, mixed-up Italian restaurant, but it won’t be easy! Everyone loves to eat there, but no one wants to move next door to such a wacky restaurant. When Jake discovers a new bookstore in town, he decides he has to find a way to convince the bookstore owner to be Uncle Rocco’s perfect new neighbor. It was fun to write all the “what if’s” for each different business, such as the pizzas baking in the bank vault, the gas pumps pumping tomato sauce, and lasagna being airmailed all over the world. I hope readers finish the book smiling along with Jake and Uncle Rocco.

Henry: I’ve written a picture book, NEVER FEED A YETI SPAGHETTI, on submission right now. It does NOT take place in an Italian restaurant.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

I hope they see how they can help someone out by trying hard, that reading is fun, that a community can come together, and that to let your imagination loose can be an amazing experience.

Henry: Letting your imagination loose is fun for both readers and writers!

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

A powerful lesson I’ve learned is to be willing to change – words, characters, ideas, and, yes, myself. Sometimes—well, too often, actually—what we first write down isn’t all that wonderful (blush!). We can think of the writer’s First Commandment as: “Thou Shalt Not Fall in Love with Thine Own Words.” (Writer Ellen Kozak). Revision is key, and being open to the possibilities of change is absolutely critical. This is extremely hard to do, but it makes all the difference. This is true about many things—not only writing.

Henry: So true. We authors sometimes forget that a story aspect that is perfectly clear to us may not be clear to someone who doesn’t live inside our head.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

If I were not a writer, I would never have been able to make an author visit at Hale Kula Elementary School, Wahiawa, HI, the Schofield Barracks elementary school, where I spoke to 200 kindergarteners and their parents, many of whom were in cammies, about ALOHA FOR CAROL ANN. Tears came to my eyes as I watched the parents and kids interact in the activity the librarian (School Library Journal Librarian of the Year Michelle Colte) had designed for them, based on my book. To think these parents, who put their lives on the line for our country, took the time to show their kids how important reading and writing are by their attendance and involvement was truly inspirational. Being a writer made that possible.

Henry: Nice. I just created my first study guide, based on mythology, for MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Listen, read, read, read, and be willing to change!

Henry: A lion is the product of all the zebras it eats, and readers are the product of all the books they read.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

For writing:
E.L. Doctorow: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
William Faulkner: “It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.”
Virginia Hamilton: “Writing is what you know, what you remember, and what you imagine.”

For life:
Writer Anne LaMott: “Earth is Forgiveness School”
Hanlon’s Razor: “Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by stupidity.”
William Boswell, Washington Post sportswriter: “There is no substitute for excellence, not even success.
Anonymous: “You will not be asked to bear tomorrow’s burdens with today’s grace.”

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

No; actually, I think writing itself is a strange ritual! We’re pulling words out of the air, listening to people talk in our heads, and imagining things happening that no one else can see.

Henry: I have a novelist friend who says authors form a Liar’s Club. We are paid to make stuff up.

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

I would like to have William Shakespeare, Hillary Mantel, and Harper Lee over for dinner, but it would need to be take-out food brought in, because I would be too nervous to cook a decent meal. Their writing is electric and has changed our perceptions of people and of the world as we think we know it. They all have a keen wit, a sense of perspective, and mind-boggling insights into the human condition. I’d just listen in to their jaw-dropping conversation and take notes like crazy.

Henry: So, pizza and beer?

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to read, try to play golf, watch baseball with my husband (go Angels!), visit our grandchildren (the Adorables), and try to be present in the moment.

Henry: Clearly THE ADORABLES is a book waiting to be written.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

I won’t have a tombstone; my ashes will be sprinkled at the library. No, I’m kidding. Seriously, probably “Loving Wife, Mom, and Grandma.” That’s how I would like to be remembered.

Where can readers find your work?

Visiting my website http://www.margosorenson.com will give readers all sorts of links for ordering my books from all the major internet outlets as well as directly from the publishers and on Kindle and Nook for some of them. Brick-and-mortar stores will be happy to order them in, also. I’m always happy to sign bookplates that can be put into the books, as it says on my website, and I enjoy hearing from readers through their parents or teachers.

Henry: Thank you for coming out to play! This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.

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Meet the Monsters – Ogres


Meet the Monsters is a web series providing background on the mythological creatures featured in MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES.



Ogres are featured in mythology and folklore throughout the world. They are large, strong, dimwitted and dangerous humanoids who eat humans. Giants, trolls, and ogres are sometimes represented as the other in fiction. For example, Tolkien refers to the ogre-like creatures in THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS as trolls.

The term ogre has several possible origins. In the Bible, Og is the giant Amorite king of Bashan. The Etruscans worshiped a cannibalistic god Orcus. Greek mythology includes the river god Oiagros, father of Orpheus. A female ogre is called an ogress. Or perhaps real-world Neanderthals, which coexisted with Cro-Magnons, were the original inspiration for ogres.

ogre01 Per the New World Encyclopedia, “Another explanation for the ogre myth is that the ogres represent the remains of the forefather-cult which was ubiquitous in Scandinavia until the introduction of Christianity in the tenth and eleventh centuries. In this cult, the forefathers were worshiped in sacred groves, by altars, or by grave mounds. They believed that after death a person’s spirit continued to live on, or near, the family farm. This particularly applied to the founding-father of the estate, over whose body a large burial mound was constructed.”

Ogres appear in the movies Shrek, in the tabletop games Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, and Warhammer, and in the books PUSS IN BOOTS, HOP O’ MY THUMB and, SLEEPING BEAUTY (original version) by Charles Perrault, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA by C.S. Lewis, XANTH by Piers Anthony, THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES by Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi, and MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES by Henry Herz.

ogre2Puss in Boots before the ogre. Note that one of the platters on the table serves human babies (Illustrated by Gustave Doré).

ogre3Hop-o’-My-Thumb steals the ogre’s seven-league boots. (Illustrated by Gustave Doré.)

ogre4Kwakiutl house pole representing the cannibal ogress Dzonoqwa

ogre5Oni (Japanese ogre)

ogre6The ogre from “Hop-o’-My-Thumb” at Efteling

ogre7The ogress Sanda Muhki represented at Mandalay Hill


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Bizarre Animal Hybrids Created in Photoshop

From the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

“Strange hybrid creatures have always fascinated society, from the Egyptian griffon, to the Persian Manticore. Now, with the advent of Photoshop, mythical creatures are easier than ever to create and share with your friends!”

#1 Butterphant


#2 Penguitten


#3 Koaowl


#4 Catmeleon


#5 Dubbit


#6 Searex


#7 Labradorca


#8 The Snowy Owlpard

The Snowy Owlpard

#9 Orangupanda


#10 Duckeranians

Tiny Dicks

#11 Highland Red Pandow

Highland Red Pandow

#12 Hippopotamice


#13 Racowl


#14 The Golden Camel

The Golden Camel

#15 Towel



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