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Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


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Owl-Shaped Cabins

From where does inspiration come? What causes someone, perhaps sitting drink a cup of tea, to decide it would be fun to build an owl-shaped house? I have no idea, but I’m glad it happened, thanks to the mad-geniuses at Bored Panda.

“An adorable cabin built to resemble three forest owls is now ready for campers in the Bordeaux region of Southwestern France, and it costs absolutely nothing to stay the night. It’s part of an initiative encouraging city dwellers to get off the grid and experience nature, and we can’t lie – we’re dying to go for it!

The plywood shelter contains three floors, circular white beds, and an adjoined boardwalk overlooking nearby wetlands. Dubbed Les Guetteurs (“the watchers”), the timber strigidae were designed and constructed by contemporary art producer Zébra3, a project commissioned by artist-architect collective Bruit de Frigo as part of their Refuges périurbains (“peri-urban shelters”) campaign.

If you’re planning a trip to Bordeaux in the near future, you can book your free stay in Les Guetteurs – or one of the many other unique camping structures in the area. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to give up electricity for a few days to live inside a wooden trio of owls?”

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Correct Names for Animals and Objects

Ever wonder who gets to select the name for animals and objects? This hilarious post by Dominyka Jurkštaitė, Mark Dempsey, and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda offers some sensible alternatives.

“Do you like to eat bagel seeds covered in cereal sauce for breakfast? Perhaps you like to quench your thirst with a nice cold glass of snowman blood? Or maybe you’ve marveled at the majestic grace of the animal known as the sea flap flap? You’re probably shaking your head right now, but the chances are that you’ve done at least one of these three things at some point in your life.

Don’t worry, we haven’t gone mad. Scroll down to see what we mean. The funny (and more than a little bizarre) descriptions of everyday things come courtesy of @CorrectNames, a hilarious twitter account by Mark Dempsey that attributes alternative names to everything from fruit and animals to clothing and body parts. Which one do you like the most? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to vote for the funniest!”

Correct Name

Correct Name

Correct Name

 I’d also call this ice juice.

Correct Name

Correct Name

Correct Name

Correct Name

 Or doughnut seeds

Correct Name

Correct Name

Correct Name


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Hamster Town

The only thing cuter than hamsters is hamsters living in a miniature town. Now you can see one thanks to the bookstore Eat, Read, Love and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

“Little lovely animals – living in a teeny town with handmade teensy details and eating tiny food there. The idea was to use this small town – named Yumville – for the big cause of advertising one of the leading food product companies, with making their products seem lovely for families as these hamsters do.

So, we created the whole town with 1325 tiny details during 1984 working hours. Housed the family of real hamsters there and made 9 episodes of online series about the lovely family obsessed with delicious food. I hope their adorable charm won’t leave anybody’s heart untouched.”

Bookshop “Eat, Read, Love”, where love story of hamster online series takes place

Startled Hamster, probably the fridge was empty

Be careful hamsters not to eat your shield!

Cinema “APOLLO” is the replica of the oldest movie theaters in Georgia

Cosy up with our hamsters in their lovely home

Putting your nose where the food is

Life is too short to let the dough bake

Shower curtains are for not peeking

Food lights up hamsters flame

They hired an interior designer for this

Sweet corn in sweet home

Winter is not coming, it has already arrived

The non-triumphant arch

Hamsters have trouble with taking out trash, don’t try this at home

Window on the wall and monster in the main hall

Leading girl character’s bedroom with her special treadmill

Munching at all the places and at all times

Leading boy character’s bedroom with constantly messy bed

Here comes the sun

Maybe hamsters should stick with food rather than drawing sticks

Here was where it all came alive

Real hamsters, a hand and handmade miniature things!

Posing for photoshoot of the movie poster


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For the Pet that Has Everything: Samurai Armor

People love their pets. Some more than others. Some, perhaps, to an unhealthy degree. But we can all agree that Samurai armor is a fashionable way to protect your fuzzy friends, thanks to the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

“A Japanese company called Samurai Age just created something the world desperately needed – samurai armor for cats and dogs. Pets are already like loyal samurais that go by our side and protect us, so surely they deserve armor that would ignite their warrior spirits.

Samurai Age offers standardized armor sized for cats and small dogs, but they also make custom designs that accommodate your little four-legged samurai’s individual needs. It looks like the company will also sell pet fashion sets made after armor worn by the legendary Japanese samurais. For instance, the red armor on a Shibu Inu in one of the pics below is actually modeled after the armor worn by Sengoku hero Sanada Yukimura – how cool is that?

Depending on the size, you can get an armor for your pet for somewhere between 4,040 yen ($125) to 16,416 yen ($146), so what are you waiting for?

May we just warn you that, with cats, you might need some extra armor to defend yourself from being scratched. Other than that, we’re sure your samurai fur babies will be glad to serve.”

One Japanese company just created something the world desperately needed…

Samurai armor for cats and dogs!

Samurai Age offers standardized armor sized for cats and small dogs

But they can also accommodate your little four-legged samurai’s individual needs

You can get an armor for your pet for somewhere between $125 to $146

The company will also sell sets made after armor worn by the legendary Japanese samurais

For example, Sengoku hero Sanada Yukimura

What are you waiting for? Your pet will be honored to serve


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Amazing Balloon Animals

Thanks to Masayoshi Matsumoto and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda, we are shown how balloon animals can be taken to the next level.

“Everyone would love Japanese artist Masayoshi Matsumoto at their birthday party. This remarkable balloon artist has already made a name for himself but now he’s back with even more incredibly intricate animal and insect sculptures.

“I started making these seven years ago, I was really inspired by wildlife pictures and wanted to see if I could create realistic animals of my own,” Matsumoto told Metro. His pieces take the self-taught artist a minimum of two hours to complete and more complex project last up to six.

All of his work becomes even more stunning when you realize that Matsumoto doesn’t use markers, stickers or any other supplementary material. Ever. His multi-colored animal kingdom is made purely out of blowing and twisting balloons.”

#1 Phoenix

Phoenix

#2 House Fly

House Fly

#3 Chameleon

Chameleon

#4 Caterpillar

Caterpillar

#5 Snake

Snake

#6 Jumping Spider

Jumping Spider

#7 Octopus

Octopus

#8 Frog

Frog

#9 Jellyfish

Jellyfish

#10 Siamang

Siamang


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Interview with Picture Book Author/Illustrator Karen Lechelt

Karen Lechelt is a writer, illustrator and artist. She was born in South Korea, raised in New Jersey and currently lives in San Francisco. Most of her stories have animals  wearing pants. Making books is something she finds impossible and impossibly wonderful. I had the opportunity to meet her at this year’s LA Times Festival of Books.

For what age audience do you write? 

Early readers (1-5), picture books

Tell us about your book. 

It’s about a young girl who while playing with her toys imagines asking them one simple question, WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOU? Their responses are sweet, silly and unique.

What DO YOU LOVE ABOUT that book? 

I hope readers and non-readers will begin to think about what it is they love about themselves…obvious I know, but that’s what I’m really hoping for.

Henry: Very nice.

What aspect of writing or illustrating do you find most challenging? 

Finishing a story or an idea is difficult for me. Ideas can come to me rather quickly. But completing the idea and the ending is almost always a struggle for me. I’m not a tidy person, and find it impossible to come up with tidy endings.

Henry: I’m a very tidy person, and it’s still a challenge to come up with tidy endings.

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

To never give up on myself. After a hundred rejections and many moments of self doubt, ultimately it was MY voice (both verbal and graphic) that shined through the massive slush piles and landed me a wonderful publisher, agent and editor. I have to believe in myself otherwise no one else will.

Henry: Solid advice. That, and grow a thick skin!

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

I’ve never been a fan of public speaking…actually I used to loathe it.  But since becoming a published author and presenting my book to over 500 students, children and adults, I’ve learned to enjoy the experience. And reading on the children’s stage at the LA Times Festival of Books is something I never expected to do and will NEVER forget. Also getting my picture taken with Jon Klassen AND Mac Barnett at LATFB was a huge treat for this fan.

Henry: I saw you there. Great job!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors or illustrators? 

I’m too much of an imposter to give advice.  But if forced, maybe I’d say no matter what, just enjoy the artful journey of storytelling.

Henry: Good advice. The artistic road is hilly, so enjoy the high points.

Do you have any favorite quotes? 

Not really a quote, but a cartoon by Jack Ziegler. A man walks into a party and thinks to himself “Yipes! Grownups!”. That happens to me almost every day…not the party, just the feeling.

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

I don’t, but my dog does. He follows me to my desk, waits for me to turn around in my chair and say “I see you” and then jumps onto the small sofa. If I don’t acknowledge him, he stares through me until I’ve relented. Oh, and I do eat a lot of chocolate, but there’s nothing strange about that.

Henry: “Acknowledge me, hooman! One does not simply work without acknowledging me. It is folly.”

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

Having a 10 year old daughter, I have discussed this quite a bit. I would absolutely fly. I love traveling and eating.  So if I could fly I would wake up in the morning and eat bagels in NY, then fly to Paris for a ham baguette and croissant, then I’d go and eat Udon in Japan and end my day in Florence with waffles and gelato.  I’d be a very selfish superhero and happily very plump. If I couldn’t fly I’d maybe like to control the weather. I think I could do a lot of good if I could control the weather.

Henry: If you get too plump, it would affect your aerodynamics. Flying is a lot trickier than it first appears. I wrote a mock interview of Edna Mode, discussing the challenges of flying and other superpowers. 

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

I would love to have Haruki Murakami over for dinner because he is my favorite all-time author. I would want to ask him about the inklings and cats and shadows in his books. I would also love to eat with Mary Blair, although technically she’s not an author, but illustrator.  She illustrated one of my all time favorite picture books, I CAN FLY.  Her color, style and creativity are unrivaled. And lastly I would have Charles Bukowski at the table, because I love his writing, but more importantly, I think he would be horribly fun. Either I’d love him or end up kicking him out.

Henry: Wikipedia helpfully offers:
“Haruki Murakami is a Japanese writer. His books and stories have been bestsellers in Japan as well as internationally, with his work being translated into 50 languages and selling millions of copies outside his native country. The critical acclaim for his fiction and non-fiction has led to numerous awards, in Japan and internationally, including the World Fantasy Award (2006) and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award (2006). His oeuvre received, for example, the Franz Kafka Prize (2006) and the Jerusalem Prize (2009). Murakami’s most notable works include A Wild Sheep Chase (1982), Norwegian Wood (1987), The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994–95), Kafka on the Shore (2002), and 1Q84 (2009–10).

Mary Blair, born Mary Robinson, was an American artist who was prominent in producing art and animation for The Walt Disney Company, drawing concept art for such films as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Song of the South and Cinderella. Blair also created character designs for enduring attractions such as Disneyland’s It’s a Small World, the fiesta scene in El Rio del Tiempo in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase, and an enormous mosaic inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Several of her illustrated children’s books from the 1950s remain in print, such as I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss. Blair was inducted into the prestigious group of Disney Legends in 1991.

Henry Charles Bukowski was a German-born American poet, novelist, and short story writer. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles. His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over 60 books. The FBI kept a file on him as a result of his column, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, in the LA underground newspaper Open City. In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife”.”

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

I like the cats in Murakami’s books because they are delegates from another world. When I read a Murakami story I may be entering a world that I actually feel like I belong to. I believe my dog, Mr. Jones, often tries to lead me down a rabbit hole.

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

Right now I’m really into painting…and chocolate.

Henry: Chocolate is becoming a theme here…

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

Lived a long happy life.

Where can readers find your work?

Tell them to check their local library! And if they want to buy it they can go to their local book store, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and the like.

Henry: Thanks for spending time with us, Karen.


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Interview with picture book author/illustrator Benson Shum

Benson Shum enjoys creating and telling stories through animation and illustration. He has worked in the animation industry for seventeen years with various studios including, Sony Pictures Imageworks, DHX Media, Rainmaker, Atomic Cartoons, Bardel Entertainment and Sesame Workshop. Benson is also an Animator at the Walt Disney Feature Animation Studios, where he was a part of such films as Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia and Moana. His inspiration comes from his love of children’s book illustrations, and observation of the little things in life. I met Benson at the 2017 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

For what age audience do you write?
I like to write picture books for young readers.  No specific genres. If I find something inspiring, I’ll try to write something about that!

Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is HOLLY’S DAY AT THE POOL with Disney-Hyperion.  It’s about a little Hippo called Holly, and how she overcomes her fear of the water.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
I hope the readers take away that we all can be brave even when we are scared.  We can find the courage within.

Henry: Ah, my LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH has the same theme.

What aspect of writing or illustrating do you find most challenging?
What I find most challenging when writing or illustrating is when I can’t quite find the story-telling pose for the character, or find the right words to describe a situation. But when you do find it, it’s really satisfying.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer/illustrator?
That’s a hard one. The most powerful lesson I’ve learned from this book is actually after the book was done and seeing how the kids reacted.  Whether through your illustrations or words, to see how a child reacts or attaches themselves to the characters you create is pretty amazing.

Henry: Yup, that’s the money shot.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors or illustrators?
I would say try to create a story with one drawing. If you can, then you are half way there.  A drawing can say a thousand words.

Henry: I’m only an author. Thanks for nothing, Benson! 🙂

Do you have any favorite quotes?
I heard this quote from my teacher a long time again.  He said KISS – Keep it simple stupid.  I try to apply to my work whether when I’m animating at Disney or writing and illustrating.  I think it’s a great idea! Haha. Simplicity is key.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
If I could have one superpower, it would be to fly!  so I can travel the world! Haha

Henry: Free airfare, and very green!

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
I would love to sit down with JK Rowling, Quentin Blake and Mary Blair.  I probably wouldn’t say anything, as I’ll be super nervous, haha, but would love to hear their story and process.

Henry: Wow, some unusual choices. Wikipedia helpfully offers:

“Sir Quentin Saxby Blake, CBE, FCSD, FRSL, RDI is an English cartoonist, illustrator and children’s writer. He may be known best for illustrating books written by Roald Dahl. For his lasting contribution as a children’s illustrator he won the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2002, the highest recognition available to creators of children’s books. From 1999 to 2001 he was the inaugural British Children’s Laureate. He is a patron of the Association of Illustrators.

Mary Blair, born Mary Robinson, was an American artist who was prominent in producing art and animation for The Walt Disney Company, drawing concept art for such films as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Song of the South and Cinderella. Blair also created character designs for enduring attractions such as Disneyland’s It’s a Small World, the fiesta scene in El Rio del Tiempo in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase, and an enormous mosaic inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Several of her illustrated children’s books from the 1950s remain in print, such as I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss. Blair was inducted into the prestigious group of Disney Legends in 1991.”

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
Mermaids would be one my favorite creatures.  The idea of a person and a fish, is pretty incredible.  There is a whole other world in the ocean that we don’t know about and I find that fascinating!

Henry: Mermaids aren’t real!? Thanks for nothing, Benson! 🙂

What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I like to paint, sketch, hang out with friends and watch mindless TV!

Where can readers find your work?
At my website, http://www.bensonshum.com, or on Instagram/Twitter: @bshum79

Henry: Thanks for spending time with us, Benson.